French President Nicolas Sarkozy has caused an uproar in Europe over comments he made Friday about Greece, the vortex of the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis,
Speaking to a French television program on Thursday night, Sarkozy said that Greece should never have been allowed entry into the Eurozone in the first place (Greece joined in 2001), and suggested Athens used fraud to gain entry.
Let's be clear; it was a mistake, he said.
Greece came into the Euro with [economic] numbers that were false and its economy was not prepared to assume an integration into the Eurozone. It was a decision that was taken… for which we now are paying the consequence.
Sarkozy compared Greece’s problems to Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008 -- suggesting that Europe had no other alternative but to rescue the country as soon as possible. He added that the debt deal arrived at in Brussels on Wednesday should save Greece from financial “catastrophe.”
“If there had not been an agreement last night, it was not just Europe that would have sunk into catastrophe, it was the whole world, he said. We took important decisions yesterday that avoided catastrophe.
Greek officials have responded with fury to Sarkozy’s remarks.
Greece's foreign minister told the BBC that the French leader was making Athens a scapegoat for the debt crisis.
Greece is in the middle of the storm, but it is not the source of the problems of European debt and deficits,” said Stavros Lambrinidis.
We see this with Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy. So it doesn't help to scapegoat a particular country when you're dealing with a European problem.
Among other things, the rescue deal will compel private banks with exposure to Greek debt to accept a 50 percent loss. As a result of this significant write-off, European Union officials expect Greece’s debt burden to fall from 160 percent of GDP to 120 percent by the year 2020.
Meanwhile, Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou said his country's debt was now sustainable.”