Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who on Friday steps down as eurogroup chief, has said he never backed the idea of a Greek exit from the euro.
In an interview with the Financial Times published Friday, Dijsselbloem said a Greek exit from the euro area, intensely speculated in 2015, would have been “really damaging” and a “huge mistake.”
The former Dutch finance minister said that despite widespread talk about Berlin’s role in pushing a temporary Greek exit from the euro area, it was mainly countries of central and southeastern Europe that favored the idea.
“Behind the broad back of Germany were a number of countries lining up who simply said ‘We’re done. We don’t have any confidence. We don’t want to talk any more with the Greek government. We want to talk about Plan B’,” Dijsselbloem said.
Dijsselbloem said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Euclid Tsakalotos, who replaced Yanis Varoufakis as finance minister after the latter stepped down following the country's referendum on the bailout terms, had “completely changed Greece’s relationship with its European partners.
“Almost everything has been easier since… it’s a completely different situation,” he said.