European Central Bank (ECB) chief Jean-Claude Trichet warned in a newspaper interview that if the stance of the eurozone governments leads to partial or total default on payments by Greece, then "the governments must put themselves at the disposal of the euro system ensurances that it can accept, stressing that the euro system is co-comprised of the ECB and the 17 Central Banks of the eurozone countries.
In his interview with Financial Times Deutschland (FTD), Trichet replies to solution scenarios calling for a "haircut" of the Greek debt, which could lead to partial or total default on payments, FTD writes. In such an eventuality, the ECB has announced that it will not accept Greek bonds as collateral for ensuring the liquidity of the Greek banks which, in turn, would result in a collapse of the Greek banking system.
"The governments bear the responsibility for that," Trichet said. "The governments have been warned explicitly and with all means. I have stated it publicly. I have many times explained to the heads of state and government, in detail, that in the event of a default of payment by one country, we will no longer accept the state bonds as normal deeds of guarantee. The governments will, in such an eventuality, have to intervene and correct it. That is their duty," Trichet said.
He clarified that, in such a case, the ECB will not make any compromise. "For us, it is not acceptable to risk our role as an anchor of stability and confidence in the eurozone and Europe," Trichet stressed. "If a country enters into default on payments, we cannot accept its state titles as collateral, because, in the view of the ECB Council, it would restrain our ability to act as an anchor of confidence and stability," he added.
The ECB president further rejected the idea of introducing euro-bonds to deal with the crisis. The ECB Board has examined
various proposals for euro-bonds, but "for the time being does not share them," Trichet said.
He said that what comes first right now is to make use of "the excellent tools we have at our disposal", including a qualitative leap in the monitoring of the economic policies of the eurozone member countries. Also, the adjustment programmes for Greece, Ireland and Portugal need to be materialised decisively, while the EFSF (European Fiscal Stability Facility) must be utilised with the greatest possibly flexibility and efficiency, Trichet added.
Despite the difficulties in the present situation, Trichet said he was optimistic on the future of the EU, adding that "of course the Europeans can manage this situation".
The ECB chief also took distances from the criticism voiced against German chancellor Angela Merkel that due to the delays she is co-responsible for the escalation of the crisis. Asked if he shared this criticism, Trichet said "no, I believe that such a discussion in the present situation is totally wrong".