German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he did not agree it was inevitable that Greece would leave the euro after a general election on June 17 that was called after an inconclusive poll last month left the country unable to form a government.
“Greece must carry out significant structural adjustments to sort out its lack of competitiveness and its weak public finances. There is no other way,” commented the German minister to German magazine Stern.
“Even if Greece were to leave the euro, this would not change its need to carry out reforms,” he added.
In a separate interview with German weekly Stern due for publication on Thursday, Schaeuble said the Greek election did not pose a threat to the euro and reiterated that it was for Athens to decide whether to stay with the common currency.
“We do not want, and legally we are not even able, to push anybody out of the euro zone. Those are the European rules. Besides the disadvantages would be considerable. We advise the Greeks not to quit, we would regret that,” Schaeuble said. “But in the final analysis it is their decision,” he added.
He said he sympathizes for the common man who is suffering most of the brunt of the unparalleled austerity in our debt-stricken country. But he sees no alternative to tightening belts. Despite his “huge sympathy” for the people experiencing the harsh consequences of austerity, the minister noted austerity across the board was required to get the country back on track.