Euro could live without Greece: France

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The eurozone could live without Greece just as it can overcome the challenge of the country being on the verge of bankruptcy, France's Minister for European Affairs Jean Leonetti said Thursday.

"The euro and Europe can survive" if Greeks vote against a debt bailout plan in a referendum, Leonetti told RTL radio, as Greece represents "two percent of eurozone GDP and four percent of its debt."

"Let's not be under any illusions, if Greece doesn't want this plan, it won't get the money," Leonetti said, echoing what French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

The leaders of the world's most powerful economies are to meet later Thursday for a G20 summit to confront a European debt crisis centred on Greece that threatens to plunge the global economy into renewed recession.

Under pressure from the US and China, Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have told Greece it would not get "one more cent" from the EU and the IMF unless Athens abides by the terms of the rescue deal agreed last week.

"You can't have the solidarity of 17 (eurozone) countries without the obligations, the budgetary discipline," Leonetti said.

If not "the country goes bankrupt, and has to leave the eurozone, but that will be the Greek people's decision, it's not for us to decide for them."

"Greece is at once (a problem) that we could overcome and something that we could live without."

"We can help them, save them, but we can't save them if they don't want it. It's not because the medicine is bitter that you shouldn't take it, because the patient is very seriously ill."

© 2011 AFP

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