EU Parliament head berates 'irresponsible' Merkel over Greek plight

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at a joint press conference at the chancellery in Berlin on Sept 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at a joint press conference at the chancellery in Berlin on Sept 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - EU parliament president Martin Schulz, on Wednesday accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "irresponsible speculation" over suggestions that Greece may be allowed to exit the euro if the far-left wins elections this month.

"The irresponsible speculation and debate over the 'Grexit' (Greek exit from the euro zone) really isn't helping," Mr Schulz said in comments published by Die Welt daily.

"It should be clear to everyone: there is no question of a withdrawal from the euro. The unsolicited comments which give the people of Greece the idea that it's not for them to decide their future via their votes, but up to Brussels or Berlin could even push electors into the arms of radical forces," the German member of the European Parliament warned.

Ms Merkel has come under fire since Der Spiegel news weekly on Saturday cited sources close to the German government as saying she is prepared to let Greece leave the euro zone if Greeks elect a government that jettisons the country's current austerity course.

The report comes as polls show a radical leftist party, Syriza, leading the field ahead of a snap election in Greece on Jan 25.

The party led by Mr Alexis Tsipras has pledged to reverse reforms imposed by Greece's international creditors and renegotiate its bailout deal.

"The German government considers a eurozone exit (by Greece) to be almost inevitable if opposition leader Alexis Tsipras leads the government after the election and abandons budgetary discipline and does not repay the country's debts," Der Spiegel reported on its website.

Both Ms Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had come to view a potential Greek exit from the 19-member euro zone in a less dramatic light, the report explained.

The German government has denied that any such discussion has taken place.

Greece's Parliament was dissolved last week after the assembly failed to agree on a successor to outgoing President Karolos Papoulias in three successive votes.

The German government has denied that any such discussion has taken place.

Accused of exerting pressure on Greek voters, the EU Commission has stayed out of the argument, with Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici asserting that the European Union's powerful executive branch was not taken a position on the Greek electoral campaign.

Meanwhile, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron stressed that Greece's place was in the eurozone regardless of the colour of the next national government and urged Berlin and the European Central Bank to work towards its economic recovery.

He said French President Francois Hollande would seek to "convince our German partner that France and Germany should go further to relaunch Europe", when he meets Ms Merkel in Strasbourg on Sunday.

Germany "should invest more. It has an overriding responsibility to do so just as France has an overriding responsibility to carry out reforms", he added.