AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The euro zone can survive even if Greece is forced out, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in an newspaper interview on Tuesday as Greek leaders struggled to secure a 130-billion-euro ($170 billion) bailout and avert further crisis.
Digital Agenda Commissioner Kroes, who oversees telecoms and the Internet across the 27-country EU, told Dutch newspaper Volkskrant that if Greece quit, the euro zone would not be in trouble.
"When one member leaves it doesn't mean 'man overboard'," she said in the interview.
"Maybe my choice of words is unfortunate. What is a man overboard? They always said if a country is let go or asks to get out, then the whole edifice will collapse. But that is simply not true."
Greek leaders face crunch talks on Tuesday to agree on unpopular reforms to secure a 130-billion-euro bailout and avert a chaotic debt default which could threaten its future in the euro zone.
Kroes said Greece's political leaders must realize that the Dutch and German governments can only sell the idea of emergency bailouts to their own taxpayers if there is proof of good will among Greece's leadership.
Reporting by Sara Webb; editing by Patrick Graham