Greece must implement reforms or leave euro

Greece must implement reforms or leave euro

LUXEMBOURG - Agence France-Presse
Greece must implement reforms or leave euro

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden is seen here with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Friden warns that there needs to be a surveillance system in place and that the Greeks cannot do it in their own way. Photo by Julien Warnand

Greece must choose between reforming its economy or leaving the euro, Luxembourg’s finance minister said Feb. 16, stressing that Athens was facing tighter surveillance from the European Union.

Luc Frieden told reporters he was “relatively optimistic” that eurozone finance ministers will take a decision Feb. 20 on a stalled 230 billion-euro Greek rescue package but warned that more steps were needed in the coming weeks.

Monitoring system needed

While the Greek coalition has met key conditions for a new bailout, he said a monitoring system must now be put in place and that the Greek Parliament must pass more measures by the end of February.
“The Greek authorities must implement these measures, but since taxpayer money from other [eurozone] states is involved, it is in a partnership that we must ensure that they are implemented,” Frieden said, denying that this amounted to placing Athens under “wardenship.”

“I don’t agree that the Greeks do it on their own. We must do it with the Greeks, with an efficient surveillance system,” he said, adding that Athens agreed on the matter.

Frieden warned that while the eurozone could not kick a member out, Greece must reform in order to be in a condition to stay in the 17-nation eurozone.

State must be free to leave

“We all have an interest in keeping the eurozone intact, but we are not in a dictatorial monetary union. A state is free to choose to leave,” he said.

“If a member state says, ‘We prefer not to take money from other states and return to a national currency without making structural reforms,’ then that state has chosen to exclude itself,” Frieden said.
“It is therefore the responsibility of the Greek people to choose whether they want to stay in the eurozone,” he said.

Greece faces a March 20 deadline to repay 14.5 billion euros in debt or face a disastrous default.