Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman on Friday dismissed the idea of Germany abandoning the euro as "absurd," after Italy's ex-premier, Silvio Berlusconi, suggested such a move could help heavily indebted Mediterranean countries.
Berlusconi, who stepped down as prime minister last year but is now seeking a comeback, said that either the European Central Bank should become the region's lender of last resort, or Germany should leave the eurozone.
"It would not be a tragedy," Berlusconi told an audience at a book presentation in Rome late Thursday.
The response from Berlin was swift.
"The idea that Germany could leave the euro, and that this wouldn't be a drama for Europe, is absurd," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters at a regular government news conference.
Germany is the European Union's biggest economy and has shouldered a large share of the financial burden for the bloc's bailout of the 17-nation eurozone's ailing members.
The strength of its economy -- and the resulting relative strength of the euro -- has been blamed by some for making it harder for other eurozone countries to increase their competitiveness.