Ex-Greek PM Samaras says Merkel offered to withdraw Greece from Eurozone

ATHENS, May 24: Former Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had proposed him to carry out a temporary “Grexit” – to withdraw the country from Eurozone amid the large-scale economic crisis it experienced – but he had rejected the offer.
In an interview with the Skai broadcaster published on Thursday, the former prime minister said that he met with Merkel in Berlin on August 24, 2012, when they discussed the crisis in Greece and Merkel asked Samaras if he wanted Greece to leave Eurozone. Merkel added that there was some plan B to help Athens in that case.
“I immediately cut her short and said: ‘ We will not continue this discussion, it does not exist. I do not accept this and will not, in any case, agree to withdraw Greece from euro so forget about it’,” Samaras told Skai.
The former prime minister added that had he mentioned about this talk to anyone, it would create turbulence on markets and in the economy.
Samaras noted that then, Greece managed to meet all preconditions for receiving the huge 54 billion euro ($60 billion) loan.
The three-year financial assistance program of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the international financial institution set up by the euro area member states, to Greece successfully concluded in August.The Greece support package was agreed by ESM members in August 2015.
Greece also received 32.1 billion euros in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle the economic crisis.
A series of crises hit Greece in the aftermath of the global financial downturn of 2007-08. Between 2010 and 2012, 52.9 billion euros in loans were disbursed to Greece by euro zone members under the so-called Greek Loan Facility to held Athens cope with the recess. In 2012-2015, Greece received 141.8 billion euros in loans from the European Financial Stability Facility.
The Greek authorities were forced to carry out unpopular austerity reforms in exchange for the loans.
Greece jointed Eurozone in 2001 and in 2015, its exit from the bloc was narrowly averted.