Gabriel: A Greek exit would be highly dangerous economically and politically

(Reuters) German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned the Greek government that Greece could only get further funds if it carried out reforms in a German newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Greece’s cash reserves are dwindling and negotiations between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s new left-led government and its lenders over a cash-for-reforms deal have been fraught with delays for months.

Asked if Greece could still be saved, Gabriel told Bild am Sonntag that this was up to Athens and said a referendum on the necessary reforms could perhaps speed up decisions.

On Monday German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble suggested Greece might need a referendum to approve painful economic reforms on which its creditors are insisting, but Athens said it had no such plan for now.

Gabriel stressed that the government needed to take action in any case: “A third aid package for Athens is only possible if the reforms are implemented. We can’t simply send money there.”

He warned about the consequences of Greece quitting the single currency bloc, saying: “A Greek exit would not only be highly dangerous economically but also politically.”

Gabriel said if one country were to leave the euro zone, the rest of the world would look at Europe differently: “Nobody would have any confidence in Europe anymore if we break up in our first big crisis. We shouldn’t talk ourselves into a Grexit.”