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Berlin: The euro zone would cope if Greece left the currency union, Germany’s finance minister said in an interview on Friday as Greek parties continued with efforts to form a government coalition.

Asked by the regional Rheinische Post whether the euro zone could withstand a Greek exit, finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: “Europe won’t sink that easily."

A file photo of Wolfgang Schaeuble, finance minister,Germany (Bloomberg)

“We have learned a lot these past two years and have built protection mechanisms. The danger of contamination for other countries in the euro zone have become weaker and the euro zone as a whole has become more resistant."

“The crisis has shown that one must act quickly and that Europe can act quickly... the notion that we would not be capable of reacting in the short term to something unforeseen is false."

Schaeuble’s comments came as Socialists in Greece tried to cobble together a government, the third party to attempt to do so since Sunday’s elections gave a razor-thin majority in parliament to anti-austerity parties.

Germany and the EU have made it clear to Greece that it must abide by its austerity pledges if it wants to receive bailout funds, money that Athens needs to avoid a default.

If no party manages to form a coalition, the president will call new elections that observers say are likely to hand a greater majority in parliament to anti-austerity parties.

“No-one is threatening anyone here," Schaeuble said in the interview. “But we must be honest... and tell our Greek friends and partners that there is no other way that the one that we have chosen together."

“We have already done a lot," he said, referring to two bailouts for Greece. “Greece must understand that in exchange, it must fulfill its obligations."

It is “dangerous to tell tales to citizens telling them that there was another, simpler way to heal Greece avoiding all the trials. It’s absurd," he said.

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