EU leaders leave Greece with few options

European Union leaders Wednesday called for a stable government to abide by the terms of Greece’s loan agreement, saying it was the best way for the country to stay in the eurozone, but at the same time there are indications that eurozone countries are drawing up plans for a possible Greek euro exit.

Caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos represented Greece at the summit in Brussels, where the Greek crisis was one of many topics to be discussed. A draft of the statement the leaders were due to release after dinner last night called for the new Greek government to take “ownership” of the fiscal adjustment program after the June 17 elections.

“We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that will take ownership of the adjustment program and have a sufficient parliamentary majority to implement with determination the fiscal and structural reforms needed,” the draft said.

“This is the best guarantee for a more prosperous future of Greece in the euro area.”

Earlier, the Finance Ministry issued a statement to deny reports that the Euro Working Group had agreed that each eurozone member should draw up contingency plans for a possible Greek euro exit.

“The Finance Ministry categorically denies reports that... member states were asked to draw up plans to deal with a possible Greek exit from the euro,” said the statement. “Such reports do not reflect reality but also damage the effort the country is making to confront its problems.”

Pikrammenos held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy.

“The Greek people have made huge sacrifices,” said Barroso. “I wish there were an easier way out of the crisis Greece is facing. The fact is that the least difficult way is the full implementation of the second program agreed by Greece and its international partners.”

Speaking before the Brussels meeting, Hollande expressed his support for Greece. “I will do everything I can in my position to convince the Greeks to choose to stay in the zone and everything to convince Europeans who might doubt of the necessity of keeping Greece in the eurozone.” 

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