Finland denies preparing for eurozone break-up

Finland's foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, seen here meeting last year with Russian government officials in Moscow, told a British newspaper Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, that it is only a "matter of time" before the eurozone collapses.
Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

(MoneyWatch) Finland's government scrambled on Friday to distance itself from comments made by its foreign minister urging European officials to prepare for a break-up of the eurozone. Alex Stubb, minister for European affairs and foreign trade, said the nation remains "100 percent" committed to preserving the currency union and is not readying for any "doomsday scenarios."

In comments on Friday in British daily The Daily Telegraph, Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja said government officials are girding for the possible end of the 17-member eurozone and have prepared an "operational plan for any eventuality."

European leaders have publicly vowed to save the eurozone, with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghirecently saying it will take whatever steps are necessary to save the currency. But Tuomioja appeared to cast doubt on that commitment.

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"There are no rules on how to leave the euro, but it is only a matter of time," he said. "Either the south or the north will break away because this currency straitjacket is causing misery for millions and destroying Europe's future. It is a total catastrophe. We are going to run out of money the way we are going. But nobody in Europe wants to be first to get out of the euro and take all the blame."

Seeking to back off Tuomioja's comments, Stubb told CNBC this morning that "scenario No. 1 for the Finnish government is that the euro will continue."

"I don't think we should be playing with fire here and suggesting the breakup of the euro or detaching some members from the euro zone," he added. Stubb also said Finland is doing all it can to keep countries in the eurozone, including Greece.

Like other EU members, Finland has a veto that could block any new measures to bail out troubled eurozone countries. Unlike other nations in the political block, its parliament would have to approve any rescue.

Finland's economy has weathered Europe's financial crisis better than most countries in the eurozone. It has the highest credit rating of any EU nation and has has insisted on collateral from both Greece and Spain in exchange for rescue loans.

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