I told you Merkel was bluffing, populist leader says

Giorgos Karatzaferis said Monday he had repeatedly cautioned Greece's major political leaders that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had intentionally exaggerated the fears of a Greek default.

?I repeatedly said during the meetings of political leaders that Merkel was bluffing, and she would never let Greece go bankrupt. She would never kick Greece out of the eurozone,? said the leader of the small populist party LAOS that left Greece's government coalition last month.

His comments came after Merkel's interview with the BBC on Monday during which the German leader said it would be ?catastrophic? to allow Greece to exit the euro area. Merkel said that keeping the debt-hit nation in the common currency zone was also a political decision.

Several German officials have in the past suggested profligate Greece should exit the eurozone.

?Those who refused to believe my thoughts and my ideas, took measures that reduced the Greek people to poverty,? Karatzaferis said Monday, predicting a fresh wave of belt-tightening measures in June.