Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has fielded media queries on a possible "plan B" in case negotiations on funding Greece fail. Slovenia's minister raised the issue at the eurozone finance ministers meeting in Riga.
Speaking to journalists on Saturday after the eurozone group of finance ministers had failed to progress in talks with Greece over its reforms in exchange for further funding, Schäuble was subtle in his response. "You shouldn't ask responsible politicians about alternatives," he said.
"Of course there's sufficient fantasy to imagine what kinds of things could happen" if no deal on Greece's bailout can be reached, Schäuble said. "But if a responsible member of the eurogroup, or any responsible politician, were to answer this question with 'yes,' we know what would happen. If he answered it with 'no,' which I have done here by not even accepting the question, then we know that you won't believe me."
The finance minister said that he could trigger panic if he were to indicate that ministers were working on a Plan B of what to do should Greece run out of money and be unable to pay back its debt.
Instead, Schäuble drew a parallel with the secrecy which surrounded the initial stages of planning for German reunification in 1989. "If back then a minister in charge, I was one of them, would have said beforehand, we have a plan for reunification, then the whole world probably would have said: 'The Germans have gone completely crazy.'"
The former German Democratic Republic adopted the German mark, Germany's currency before the introduction of the euro, in 1990.
Slovenia's finance minister confirmed that he raised the issue of a plan B during Friday's meeting of the eurogroup. He had received support for his suggestion from Slovakia and Lithuania, according to a eurozone official.
"What my discussion was about is what we will do if…the new program will not be achieved in time for Greece to be able to finance itself and improve liquidity," Dusan Mramor said on Saturday morning.
But Mramor denied that in the event of no deal with Greece, it would lead to the automatic exit of Athens from the eurozone. "A 'plan B' can be anything," he said.
jm/bk (Reuters, dpa)