ECONOMY

Foreign officials play down default

A flurry of foreign officials on Wednesday played down the prospect and the consequences of a Greek default.

The International Monetary Fund ?is absolutely not discussing and will not discuss a controlled default of Greece, or an exit of the country from the euro,? the organization?s financial counselor and director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department, Jose Vinals, told Skai TV in an interview.

?To date, European leaders have stated their strong support for European unification and this is very important. They have declared their express commitment to Greece remaining a member of the eurozone,? he said during a press briefing on the presentation of the IMF?s biannual Financial Stability Report in Washington.

?We have a very strong and close cooperation with Greece so as to ensure that the country remains on the right path and the implementation of the program continues, not just regarding the fiscal adaptation leg but also for the measures that will support growth,? Vinals said.

Separately, France?s Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse said Paris was not considering a Greek default scenario and ?is doing everything to save Greece.?

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece was the focus of speculative pressures.

?As soon as the markets are convinced that the Greek problem has been permanently solved, the risk of contagion to other countries will be significantly reduced,? he said.

Questioned as to what will happen in the event that Greece does receive a new bailout and declares default, Schaeuble said a responsible government has to take all scenarios into account ?but cannot publicly consider its options for everything.?

Separately, Germany?s liberal FDP party leader Philipp Roesler toed the line of Chancellor Angela Merkel by saying, ?We want Greece to stay in the eurozone, but for this to be achieved we must do everything so that it regains its competitiveness.?

The FDP?s former Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle expressed the view that Greece itself will choose the moment of a ?haircut? to its debt.

For his part, Portugal?s Prime Minister Pedro Coelho warned that the consequences of a Greek default would be ?catastrophic.?