Angela Merkel gives Greece euro hope, but no extra time
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during a welcome ceremony at the chancellery in Berlin on Aug 24. AA photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel offered a ray of hope to Greece on Aug. 24 about keeping the debt-hit country in the eurozone, but her wording did not include any promises on the extra time that the visiting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was demanding
“I want to say very clearly ... that Greece is part of the eurozone and I want Greece to remain part of the eurozone. This guides all our discussions,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with Samaras.
“I am deeply convinced that the new Greek government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Samaras, is doing everything to solve the problems that Greece is facing,” Angence France Presse quoted her as saying.
“We know that this requires great sacrifices ... and Germany has always said that it will support Greece in this,” added the chancellor.
Greece’s prime minister, on his side, said his country needs “time to breathe” as it carries through painful reforms and spending cuts, according to the Associated Press.
Merkel did not immediately respond to Samaras’ call for more time to implement reforms.
But, she said, Berlin would not pass premature judgment on Athens’ reform efforts ahead of a report next month from Greece’s international debt inspectors.
“Greece can expect that Germany will not take hurried decisions but on the basis of reliable facts,” Merkel said.
Leading German politicians have voiced deep skepticism about granting Greece significant concessions as it implements unpopular reforms and cuts.
Samaras pledged to stick to all of Greece’s promises to its international creditors and said that he was not asking for more bailout money.
“I am sure our plan will soon bear fruit. We will hit our targets,” vowed Samaras, speaking through an interpreter, before adding: “Actions speak louder than words.” “We are at the beginning of a new phase in relations between our two countries,” said the Greek prime minister, as ties had become strained between Berlin and Athens as a result of the near three-year eurozone debt crisis.
Samaras was on a two-day trip to northern Europe which was scheduled to take him on Aug. 25 to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande.
He is reportedly drumming up support with the leaders of the eurozone’s two top economies for more time to meet a deadline to cut billions of euros (dollars) from his budget.
He declined to specify a timeframe after his Berlin talks, but said a report from Greece’s international creditors, due next month, would show that Athens had “produced results” in its drive to reform its ailing economy.
As part of a 130-billion-euro ($161-billion) bailout package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece has committed to sweeping reforms and some 11.5 billion euros of cuts in 2013 and 2014.
The day before, Merkel met Hollande in Berlin and insisted that Greece redouble its reform efforts but noticeably did not say she wanted Athens to stay in the euro, unlike the French president.