Greek euro exit ‘not the end of the world,’ says German minister

A German minister suggested on Wednesday the eurozone could do without Greece, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel struggled to unite her government in supporting Greece.

In a marked departure from Germany?s official line, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer told the Die Zeit weekly it would ?not be the end of the world? if debt-mired Greece were forced to exit the eurozone.

Merkel has repeatedly warned of a ?domino effect? if Greece were to leave the 17-nation zone and stressed on Tuesday: ?I have made my position very clear that everything must be done to keep the eurozone together politically.?

Ramsauer?s comments come as Merkel, whom Forbes magazine last month named the world?s most powerful woman, faces a possible backbench rebellion within her own coalition over a key parliamentary vote on extending aid for Greece.

She was forced on Tuesday to slap down her own vice chancellor, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, after comments he made about a possible Greek bankruptcy sent the markets into turmoil.

?Everyone should weigh their words very carefully. What we do not need is volatility on the financial markets,? she said.

Meanwhile, eurosceptics in the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which Roesler heads, were trying to win enough signatures to force a referendum among party members over whether to vote against extending the EU?s rescue fund.

FDP deputy Frank Schaeffler told AFP he had collected 1,200 signatures, around one-third of those necessary to force a referendum.

If a majority of party members then voted against the bill to boost the EU rescue fund, it would become party policy, meaning Merkel would likely have to rely on the opposition to pass the bill, undermining her politically.

The bill, due to come before the Bundestag lower house on September 29, aims to extend the volume and scope of the EU rescue fund (EFSF) as agreed by European leaders on July 21. [AFP]

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