Hollande's euro arguments "nonsense": Austria's Fekter

VIENNA Tue May 22, 2012 2:22am EDT

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter reacts during a plenary session (Nationalrat) in the house of parliament in Vienna April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter reacts during a plenary session (Nationalrat) in the house of parliament in Vienna April 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Herwig Prammer

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter dismissed as "nonsense" French President Francois Hollande's approach to resolving the euro zone debt crisis and insisted, in a newspaper interview, on financial discipline.

"Growth financed by debt? Those are the recipes from the day before yesterday. The arguments that France's new president Francois Hollande is putting forward again are nonsense and got us into this whole mess in the first place," the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten paper quoted her as saying.

Hollande has focused on boosting growth and employment in Europe and said on Monday all options must be on the table at an informal EU summit this week.

Fekter, whose outspoken comments have landed her in hot water with euro zone colleagues in the past, said it was wrong to believe that every austerity measure automatically curbed economic growth.

The way ahead, she said, was to implement reforms while investing in areas such as research and education that generate growth.

Asked whether Greece should leave the euro zone, she said this would not solve the challenges Greece faces.

"Manna does not fall from heaven with a new currency. A currency devaluation may strengthen Greece's competitiveness in the short run, but there is no way around structural reforms that make growth possible in the first place.

"Also, every scenario that sees dismissing Greece from the euro zone is most difficult. There is none so attractive that you would jump at it," she said, reiterating that Athens had to comply with the conditions of its international bailout if it wanted to get foreign aid.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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