Sarkozy threatened to quit euro in showdown with Germany: report

14th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull his country out of the euro currency group to force Germany to help Greece with its debt crisis, El Pais newspaper reported Friday, quoting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Sarkozy made the threat at a Brussels summit of EU leaders last Friday that sealed a rescue package, Zapatero told a meeting with leaders of his Socialist Party on Wednesday, the newspaper reported.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has been the most reluctant euro nation to help the Greek government.

However the French president demanded "a commitment by everyone, for everyone to help Greece, each according to his means or France would reexamine its situation in the euro," Zapatero was quoted as saying.

"Sarkozy banged his fist on the table and threatened to withdraw from the euro, which twisted the arm of Angela Merkel," the German chancellor, a Socialist official who heard Zapatero's account was quoted as saying.

The Brussels summit finally agreed a 110-billion-euro (140-billion-dollar) three-year package of loans and credit guarantees for Greece, which had risked defaulting on its huge debts.

"France, Italy and Spain put up a common front against Germany and Sarkozy went so far as to threaten to break the traditional Franco-German axis," according to another person at the meeting. France and Germany are traditionally considered the central motor of EU initiatives.

Spain and Portugal also face major debt problems and Zapatero announced new austerity measures on Wednesday.

El Pais said the Spanish leader has used increasingly dramatic rhetoric in recent days to convince his party of the gravity of the crisis facing the euro.

© 2010 AFP

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