ECB's Stark insists resigning for personal reasons

Reuters

VIENNA (Reuters) - European Central Bank Executive Board member Juergen Stark stuck to his position that personal reasons were behind his decision to resign from the central bank, but declined on Thursday to give details about the decision.

The ECB on Friday had said that Stark was resigning for personal reasons, although sources told Reuters that the resignation was a protest against the bank's policy of buying bonds to help troubled euro zone debtor states.

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"You will not hear anything more from me than last Friday...personal reasons," Stark said in a question-and-answer session after a speech in Vienna when asked about his resignation.

He also said there was no reason to think that Greece could not repay its debt as it was fundamentally a rich country.

In a separate interview with Austrian television, Stark avoided a direct answer when asked whether a disagreement with the ECB's open-market purchases of sovereign debt of struggling euro zone members had prompted him to step down.

"As you know, we had this to discuss in the ECB council in early August and I said later...I would step down. At the proper time there will be an explanation of the significant details. Otherwise it remains for personal reasons," he said.

He said he took into consideration the potential market fallout from his decision. He will stay on until a successor is appointed.

"A certain market reaction was surely to be expected but look where the markets are today. The euro is again at 1.39 versus the dollar, there is a certain floor being formed on equity markets," he said.

"One shouldn't overestimate this, and I don't overestimate this myself," he added.

Stark, 63, has been a member of the ECB's six-member Executive Board -- whose members form the Governing Council along with the 17 euro zone national bank chiefs -- since June 2006.

He holds the board's influential economics portfolio, a role that allows him to present a template of the ECB's monetary policy statement that forms a basis for the Governing Council's final view.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Writing by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Leslie Adler)