German Chancellor Merkel looks around during guided walking tour of northern German city of Stralsund
German Chancellor Angela Merkel the Chancellor had strong words for Greece’s leaders, warning they must abide by the harsh austerity measures attached to the bail out loan. REUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be a grave political mistake to allow Greece to leave the euro zone.

Speaking to the BBC, Merkel said the debt-stricken country had major weaknesses, but that a Greek exit from the common currency would be catastrophic for Europe.

She added important lessons had been learned from the Greek experience, allaying fears that further bailouts would be needed for other struggling euro zone countries.

It [Greece] has major weaknesses but it is trying to overcome them, be they in the administration or the competitiveness of their business community, she said.

It is going to be a long and arduous road. We have taken the decision to be in a currency union. This is not only a monetary decision, it is a political one. It would be catastrophic if we were to say to one of those who have decided to be with us: 'We no longer want you'.

Ordinary Germans are angry with Merkel and her coalition government after their country was forced to provide the lion's share of a recent €130 billion Greek bailout loan, set to keep the country afloat until 2014. Similarly, many Greeks have blamed Germany -- and Merkel in particular -- for the heavy economic crisis the country is being crushed by.

The Chancellor also had strong words for Greece's leaders, warning they must abide by the harsh austerity measures attached to the bailout loan.

Some countries accepted the rescue package but they don't particularly relish it. They must follow conditions set out by the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission. What democratic government wants to be in that situation for the duration? she added.

That is why we will be clear with Greece, we will say: 'If you want to be part of a common currency you have to do your homework but at the same time we will always support you.'