Greek Deputy PM blasts euro exit talk as 'immense stupidity'
(MADRID) - Greece's Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos has blasted suggestions that it would be better for his country to abandon the euro and return to the drachma as an "immense stupidity".
"Those who say this are extremely stupid. While they may be analysts, university professors or economists, saying that is an immense stupidity," Pangalos told daily Spanish newspaper El Mundo in an interview published Sunday.
Debt-wracked Greece has been told by European peers that it cannot hope to continue receiving aid from a 110-billion-euro rescue package agreed with the EU and the IMF last year without biting budget reforms and privatisations.
The Greek parliament will vote on an austerity package this week but some economists have argued that Athens needs to restructure its debt and leave the euro to become economically competitive again.
"Returning to the drachma would mean that on the following day banks would be surrounded by terrified people trying to withdraw their money, the army would have to protect them with tanks because there would not be enough police," said Pangalos.
"There would be riots everywhere, shops would be empty, some people would throw themselves out the window ... And it would also be a disaster for the entire European economy."
The austerity measures the Greek parliament will vote on later this week to keep the country's huge debt viable and persuade international creditors to extend additional assistance, are worth more than 28 billion euros ($40 billion) for the period 2011-2015.
Athens also intends to sell partial or full stakes in a host of state entities, aiming to raise 50 billion euros to reduce the overall Greek debt of more than 350 billion euros.