Greece ‘not quitting’ euro
Athens denies German report about secret talks on reverting to drachma
Greece was forced to deny last night that it has any intention of leaving the eurozone or that it was discussing a potential exit with its European partners after a report in Germany suggested finance ministers were meeting in Luxembourg to talk about Athens reverting to the drachma.
Spiegel Online reported that Greece had raised the prospect of an exit with other countries. Quoting “German government sources knowledgeable of the situation in Athens,” the Internet version of the German weekly news magazine said eurozone finance ministers were meeting yesterday evening to discuss Greece’s situation, and that a possible restructuring of its debt as well as the issue of leaving the 17-member bloc would be on the agenda of the meeting.
“The report about Greece leaving the euro- zone is untrue,” Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis told Reuters minutes after the Spiegel report appeared on the Internet. “Such reports undermine Greece and the euro and serve market speculation games.”
A few minutes later, the Finance Ministry issued a formal rejection of the claims. “Apart from being untrue, the report about Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone has been written with an inconceivable lack of seriousness even though the Greek government and other EU member states have repeatedly denied such a case.”
The euro fell sharply on the foreign exchange markets in late trading and Athens said that the claims made by Spiegel Online were damaging for Greece and the single currency. “Such publications are a provocation, they undermine the efforts of Greece and the euro and they serve the tricks of profiteers,” said the Finance Ministry.
Greece’s assertion that no secret meeting was taking place in Luxembourg was backed up by other eurozone members. “I totally deny that there is a meeting, these reports are totally wrong,” Guy Schuller, a spokesman for JeanClaude Juncker, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, told Reuters.
A spokesman for the Austrian Finance Ministry said a breakup of the bloc would be “absolutely unthinkable.” “Austria is a member of the eurozone, we know of no such meeting and haven’t been invited, so I conclude that there is no such meeting because I do not believe there can be a eurozone meeting without Austria,” spokesman Thomas Waiglein said.