Greece should never have adopted euro: German ex-minister

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Greece should never have been allowed to join the eurozone, former German finance minister Theo Waigel said Friday, as Athens struggles to avoid bankruptcy and EU partners fear contagion.

Greece "clearly should never have joined the eurozone... the figures weren't good, The Greeks swindled and deceived" everyone, Waigel told the Phoenix television channel.

There weren't enough controls, he added in the comments which were published before being broadcast.

Greece scrapped the drachma and adopted the euro in 2001. Three years later the then ruling conservatives told Brussels that the country's budget deficit had been miscalculated for years under the socialists.

In the current situation, with riots on Greek streets and EU-IMF bailouts required to stop the country defaulting on its debts, Waigel said there was too much talk and not enough action, calling for decisions to be made "quicker and less expensively."

Germany, Europe's largest economy, is finding itself paying the biggest proportion of multi-billion euro bailout loan packages which have already been granted to Greece and fellow indebted eurozone members Ireland and Portugal.

Waigel served as Germany's finance minister for almost a decade, between 1989-1998 under conservative chancellor Helmut Kohl.

It was he who, during a European summit in Madrid in 1995, proposed to name the common European currency, now shared by 17 nations, simply the "Euro".

© 2011 AFP

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