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Juncker slams 'propaganda' of Greek euro exit

The head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, has dismissed speculation about an imminent Greek euro exit as propaganda after eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels on Monday.

ON ANY POSSIBLE CHANGES TO GREEK BAILOUT PROGRAMME:

"If there were to be dramatic changes in the circumstances, we wouldn't preclude a debate about an extension of the period (for Greece to meet targets). I didn't say there was any intention to extend the periods, we have to do things in the appropriate order.

"We need a Greek government, the Greek government would have to make clear it was fully committed to the programme, and then if there were exceptional circumstances, we wouldn't exclude the possibility of discussing this issue.

"It wasn't discussed today because those two other conditions were not met: we haven't got a Greek government and we haven't got any particular circumstances to warrant this discussion.

"Anyway, there wouldn't be any substantive change involved."

ON POSSIBILITY OF GREECE LEAVING EURO ZONE:

"I made it perfectly clear that nobody was mentioning an exit of Greece from the euro area. I am strongly against. We are 17 member states being co-owners of our common currency.

"I don't envisage, not even for one second, Greece leaving the euro area. This is nonsense, this is propaganda.

"We have to respect Greek democracy. I'm against this way of dealing with Greece consisting in provoking the Greek public opinion and giving advice and indications to the Greek sovereign.

"Greece has voted, we have to take into account the result. We do hope that a government will be formed in the next coming days or weeks and then we have to deal with that government. We don't have to lecture Greece.

"But the Greek public, the Greek citizens, have to know that we agreed on a programme and this programme has to be implemented. But I don't like the way of dealing with Greece, those that are threatening Greece day after day. This is not the way of dealing with partners, colleagues and friends and citizens in the European Union."

ON GREEK PROGRAMME:

"We took note of the results of the Greek elections on May 6. The democratic process in Greece should now run its course. The Eurogroup looks forward to the swift formation of a new Greek government that will take ownership of the programme and that has a sufficient parliamentary majority to implement fully the agreed policy conditionality."

ON GREEK REFORMS:

"The Eurogroup is fully aware of the significant efforts already made by Greek citizens. This is not a time to relax the reform efforts. On the contrary, continued fiscal and structural reforms are Greece's best guarantee for a more prosperous future in the euro area. We therefore encourage Greece to resolutely continue to adjust the structural weakness of its economy."

ON GREECE IN EUROZONE:

"Our unshakeable desire is to maintain Greece within the euro area. We will do everything possible to that effect. The exit of Greece out of the euro was not the subject of our debate today. Absolutely no one, absolutely no one, argued in that sense."

[Reuters]

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