German Chancellor Angela Merkel had proposed a temporary Greek exit from the eurozone during a meeting with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in August 2012, the ex-PM told Skai in an interview aired on Thursday night as part of the channel’s series “Greek Bankruptcy.”
The meeting took place in Berlin on August 24, 2012, at a critical time for Greece “when no one outside Greece believed we would make it,” Samaras said.
After showing him some slides demonstrating the problematic nature of the Greek economy, Merkel said Berlin had a Plan B to propose. “She told me: ‘Look, I want to tell you something that you should know from now. The journey you have to make is very difficult. If you want Greece to leave the euro, then you should know that we have an alternative plan that will help you for a period of time, which we can figure out.’”
Samaras said he rejected the proposal immediately. “I stopped her straight away and said: ‘We are not having this conversation. This is not happening. I don’t accept it. There is no way I will ever accept Greece leaving the eurozone. You can forget it.’”
He added that he had told no one about the conversation at the time as it would have created upheaval in the markets and the economy. He also noted that leftist SYRIZA, then in opposition, had been declaring that the threat of Grexit was simple scaremongering by Greece’s foreign creditors.