BERLIN (AFP) - German automaker Opel, a unit of stricken US giant General Motors, might cut at least 3,500 jobs if the government does not step in, the head of GM Europe said in an interview published on Wednesday. Salary cuts are already expected, Carl-Peter Forster told the mass circulation daily Bild Zeitung, and "on top of that comes the elimination of hopefully no more than 3,500 posts," he said. "That is just what we want to avoid," he added. General Motors, which has asked the US government for loans of around 30 billion dollars (24 billion euros), is also in talks with German authorities on how to save its German subsidiary, which employs almost 26,000 workers. GM is also speaking with the governments of Belgium, Britain and Spain, where Opel has other plants. Forster told Bild that "3.3 billion euros in loans or direct share holdings by 2014 are needed to save all these sites." But German authorities have shown less inclination to bail out the auto sector than they did when banks got into trouble late last year. Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has said a rescue proposal drawn up by Opel executives left many unanswered questions. The project, on which state aid depends, foresees greater autonomy for Opel from its troubled US parent. Berlin has approved a banking sector rescue package worth 480 billion euros, but has not yet flown to the aid of companies like Opel or the auto parts group Schaeffler. A banking sector failure could have catastrophic systemic effects on the entire economy, as was shown by the failure of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. "There are not, on the other hand, large enterprises" that present the same risks, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday according to a report in the Rheinische Post newspaper that quoted members of her CDU party. Opel nonetheless had the right to ask for state aid "like other companies," Merkel was also quoted as saying. The head of German luxury car maker BMW, Norbert Reithofer, told the Financial Times he was concerned that government intervention in the auto sector would leave only two independent carmakers in Europe. "If we go further, then there is the danger that we will have only one or two independent manufacturers and the rest will be state or semi-state enterprises," Reithofer told the newspaper at the Geneva Motor Show. The head of Volkswagen, Europe's biggest car maker, has also voiced opposition to a state-backed bailout of Opel.