Greece's bailout should be extended for several months, in order to boost the country's economic and financial prospects after its destabilizing change of government, corporate leaders told CNBC on Monday.
"What we are asking is, not just give Greeks a chance, give Europe a chance," said Harris Ikonomopoulos, president of the British Hellenic Chambers of Commerce, in Athens.
Since the radical left-wing-led government came to power two weeks' ago, Greece has battled to dismantle the austerity measures and structural reforms on which its 240 billion euro ($272 billion) international bailout is conditional. This has put Greece at loggerheads with European politicians such as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who say that Greece must stick to the previously agreed terms.
The current instalment of Greece's bailout is set to end on February 28 and further international loans are unlikely unless Greece can quickly strike an agreement with its bailout supervisors—the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.
With that in mind, Ikonomopoulos argued on Monday that Greece's bailout needed to be extended.
"The government needs some time to prepare," he said. "The issue about the Eurogroup, the ECB, Germany, our partners, our lenders, is that they have nothing to lose by giving the Greek government a chance, by giving it a three- or four-month extension to put together another plan, while they are putting their house in order."
Vassilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, concurred as to the need for an extension.
"I think we must have this extension for the next six months," he told CNBC on Monday.
Over the weekend, Greece's new finance minister asserted that if Greece quit or was forced out of the euro zone, other countries would follow, and the currency union would collapse like a "house of cards."
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Korkidis disagreed with the metaphor, saying that a "Grexit" would have no bearing on the likelihood of other countries leaving the euro zone.
"I think Europe is like a parking space and if one car leaves, it doesn't matter for the rest. The Greek economy is very small actually to shake the European economy," he told CNBC.