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BERLIN (Reuters) - If Greece were to leave the euro zone, Spain and Italy would also end up quitting the common currency bloc, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos told German newspaper Bild in an interview to be published on Saturday.
“If Greece explodes, Spain and Italy will be next and then at some point, Germany. We therefore need to find a way within the euro zone, but this way cannot be that the Greeks keep on having to pay,” he said, according to an advance extract of the broad-ranging interview.
He also said Greece did not need a third bailout but rather “a haircut like the one Germany also got in 1953 at the London debt conference.”
Athens and Berlin have become engaged in a war of words and Greece has submitted a formal protest to the German Foreign Ministry, accusing Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of having insulted his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis. Schaeuble denies having called Varoufakis “foolishly naive”, as reported by some Greek media.
On Schaeuble, Kammenos was quoted as saying: “I don’t understand why he turns against Greece every day in new statements. It’s like a psychological war and Schaeuble is poisoning the relationship between the two countries through that.”
The relationship has already been strained by Berlin’s tough stance on Greece’s debt crisis.
Kammenos said Schaeuble needed to put up with the new Greek government because it had been elected by the Greek people. He accused Berlin of interfering in Greek domestic affairs, adding: “I get the feeling that the German government is out to get us and some really want to push us out of the euro zone.”
This week Greece has renewed its campaign to seek compensation for the Nazis’ brutal occupation in World War Two, an issue that Berlin says was settled decades ago. [ID: nL5N0WD3BW]
Kammenos called for reparations in the interview, saying, “The gold that the Nazis took to Berlin from Athens was worth a lot of money. We expect compensation for that and also for the forced loan and the destruction of archaeological statues.”
Kammenos also suggested Greece would stop taking refugees in the case of a “forced” Greek exit from the euro zone.
“Then no agreements would be valid anymore, no treaties, nothing. We would no longer be obliged to take in refugees as a country of arrival. Whoever wants to push us out of the euro zone should know that.”
He also said Greece was losing a lot of money due to European Union sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, adding that Athens therefore needed compensation from the EU. “Otherwise we can’t and don’t want to take part in sanctions against Russia, which are only damaging our economy,” he said.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Ken Wills)