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FDP defies Merkel with talk of Greek default

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FDP defies Merkel with talk of Greek default
Photo: DPA
08:07 CEST+02:00
The German government continues to be shaken by the insistence of junior coalition partner the Free Democratic Party openly talking about the possibility of a Greek default in the euro crisis.

Despite Chancellor Angela Merkel's appeal for quiet and discretion on the subject, top members of the pro-business FDP have ignored her and are continuing to talk about an eventual Greek insolvency.

FDP Secretary General Christian Lindner told the Financial Times Deutschland on Wednesday that long-term clarity, needed by people in Germany and the markets as well as the Greeks, could not be achieved with a vow of silence.

The paper said that the subject had become a test for the centre-right coalition, with not only the FDP but the Christian Social Union, sister party to Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, also straying from her line of supporting Greece at pretty much any price.

In a marked departure from Germany's official line, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer, a leading figure in the CSU, told the Die Zeit weekly on Wednesday it would "not be the end of the world" if debt-mired Greece were forced to exit the eurozone.

But Merkel on Tuesday said an uncontrolled Greek default must absolutely be avoided, after it was announced that she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would speak on Wednesday with Greek premier Giorgos Papandreou to discuss the situation. She said the uncertainties on the market were big enough, and that, “therefore everyone should choose their words very carefully.”

But the FDP is refusing to stop talking about what party leader and Economics Minister Philipp Rösler said was a possible controlled default over the weekend.

Lindner told the FTD that his party did not want to talk up the chances of such a default, but said the appeal to stop discussing it was, “just an attempt to prevent an overdue debate about an undesirable but possible Greek default.”

He added, “Healing the symptoms will not bring stability to the markets.”

He said it was right that not only his party but also the CSU was talking openly about not giving something for nothing. “If Greece cannot fulfil its contractual duties then there can be no further European emergency help,” he told Bayerische Rundfunk radio on Wednesday morning.

In an indication of how seriously the US government is taking the European crisis, it was announced on Tuesday that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would attend Friday's informal meeting of his European Union counterparts. He is expected to pressure particularly Germany to increase the euro rescue fund, the FTD said.

The Local/DAPD/AFP/hc

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