European opinion divided on Greece

There were encouraging words from Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday regarding Greek membership of the euro but going into a series of crucial meetings with European leaders this week, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will be in no doubt about how divided opinion about Greece is within the eurozone.

In an interview with the Austrian daily Tiroler Tageszeitung, Juncker said that a Greek exit should only be considered if Athens avoids all its bailout commitments. ?If Greece refused budget consolidation and structural reforms outright, then we would have to consider this question,? he said.

?But because I believe Greece will try to redouble its efforts to meet its targets, there is no reason to expect this exit scenario will become relevant.?

Juncker was one of several European officials who played down the possibility of Greece leaving the euro, following comments from politicians in Germany, Finland and Austria suggesting an exit was on the cards.

?The Commission is not working on the split of the euro area, nor contingency plan, nor Grexit, or any plan,? European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said on Friday.

In Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said, ?The negative consequences of a breakup of the eurozone would far outweigh any advantages for individual countries.?

?I have said that an exit would be manageable, by which I meant that it would be technically manageable but that it would be politically impracticable,? said Juncker.

Juncker is due in Athens on Wednesday for talks with Samaras, who will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday and French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday. Troika inspectors are due in Athens on August 27. Senior troika officials are expected between September 3 and 5.

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