SSyyrri­iz­zaa rru­ulleess oou­utt ‘‘GGr­re­exxi­itt’’ ooppt­ti­ioonn

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment wants Greece to stay in the eu­ro­zone and there are no con­tin­gency plans to the con­trary, Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel said in an in­ter­view on Mon­day, re­spond­ing to me­dia re­ports that Berlin be­lieves the cur­rency union could cope with­out Greece.

Gabriel, the Econ­omy Min­is­ter and leader of the cen­tre-left So­cial Democrats (SPD), also told the Han­nover­sche All­ge­meine Zeitung that the eu­ro­zone had be­come more re­silient in re­cent years and could not be “black­mailed”, ac­cord­ing to the EU news and pol­icy site EurAc­tiv.

“The goal of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, the Euro­pean Union and even the gov­ern­ment in Athens it­self is to keep Greece in the eu­ro­zone,” Gabriel said in the in­ter­view.

“There were no and there are no other plans to the con­trary,” he said, and noted the eu­ro­zone had be­come far more sta­ble in re­cent years.

“That’s why we can’t be black­mailed and why we ex­pect the Greek gov­ern­ment, no mat­ter who leads it, to abide by the agree­ments made with the EU,” he said re­fer­ring to the Jan­uary 25 elec­tion and pos­si­ble change of gov­ern­ment.

Ear­lier, a spokesman for Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, Ge­org Stre­iter, said the Ger­man gov­ern­ment ex­pects Greece to stick to the terms of its 240 bln euro EU/IMF bailout agree­ment. Stre­iter de­clined to com­ment on a re­port in Der Spiegel on Satur­day that said Berlin had shifted its view and now be­lieved the eu­ro­zone would be able to cope with a Greek exit, or “Grexit”, if nec­es­sary.

Der Spiegel re­ported that Berlin con­sid­ers a Grexit almost un­avoid­able if the left-wing Syriza op­po­si­tion party, nar­rowly ahead in opin­ion polls, wins Greece’s elec­tion. Syriza wants to can­cel aus­ter­ity mea­sures and a chunk of Greek debt.

But the re­port said that both Merkel and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble now be­lieve the eu­ro­zone has im­ple­mented enough re­forms since the height of its debt cri­sis in 2012 to make a po­ten­tial Greek exit man­age­able.

In ad­di­tion, the eu­ro­zone now has an “ef­fec­tive” bailout fund, the Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism (ESM), another source added. Ma­jor banks would be pro­tected by the bank­ing union.

As the eu­ro­zone’s pay­mas­ter, Ger­many is in­sist­ing that Greece must stick to a course of aus­ter­ity and not back­track on its bailout com­mit­ments - es­pe­cially as it does not want to open the door for other strug­gling eu­ro­zone mem­bers to re­lax their re­form ef­forts.

Peter Bofin­ger, one of the “wise men” coun­cil of eco­nomic ad­vis­ers to the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, warned against a Grexit.

“There would be many high risks for the

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