Trichet says Greece’s best option is to remain in euro

Former European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet said Greece’s best option is to remain in the euro area because the Greek public would first to bear the brunt of an exit.

“I think the will of the Greek government, the overwhelming will of the Greek people — according to the information I have — and of course the option of the European friends is that staying in the euro area is by far the best solution,” Trichet said in an interview in Zurich on Tuesday. “But it’s up to the Greek democracy to decide whether or not they want to stay in the euro area.”

Trichet led the ECB in 2010 when euro-area finance ministers provided Greece with initial financial aid. Five years on, Europe’s most-indebted state needs to seal an accord with creditors or get an extension before the euro area’s bailout expires on June 30. The failure could mean it misses payments on its debt of about 313 billion ($354 billion) euros and a default could mean an exit from the currency union.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Bild newspaper that any new proposals would need to be thrashed out at a lower level before they could be presented to euro-area finance ministers set to meet June 18 in Luxembourg. ECB President Mario Draghi told lawmakers in Brussels on Monday that while both sides must go “the extra mile,” the ball lay “squarely” with the Greek government to take “the necessary steps.”

According to Trichet, failure to come to an agreement would hurt the Greek public most.

“If the choice is not to have a credible plan, then it seems to me that the first to have a high price to pay for that unfortunately would be the Greek people itself,” he said. Without a plan that is accepted by all parties, “the main goal that Greece is pursuing with full legitimacy — namely growth and job creation — will not be obtained.”