Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, today said that she is convinced that the Greek government of Antonis Samaras is doing all it can to sort out the country’s economic difficulties.
Germany’s chancellor was speaking after she met Samaras in Berlin for talks aimed at building bridges between the two countries. It was the latest in a series of bilateral meetings between leaders of the eurozone to discuss solutions to the eurozone’s problems.
At a joint press conference, Merkel said that she wanted to help Greece see “the light at the end of the tunnel”.
“I want Greece to stay in the eurozone and that’s what I’m working for,” she said.
Merkel said that she and François Hollande, the president of France, whom she met yesterday, believed it premature to reach conclusions about the rate of reform in Greece before the publication of an assessment carried out by the ‘troika’ of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund next month.
“I am deeply convinced that the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Samaras will do what it takes to solve the problem in Greece,” Merkel added.
“This is a difficult path and Germany has always said it will support Greece on this path.”
Merkel’s remarks, on what was Samaras’s first visit to Germany since he became Greece’s prime minister in June, put distance between her and other eurozone politicians, including those within her own centre-right party, who have questioned whether Greece should remain in the eurozone.
Samaras criticised speculation that Greece would be forced out of the currency union and said that his visit marked “the start of new relations between Greece and Germany”.
He added that it had been “a good start”.
Greece’s authorities are under pressure to show that they are on target to trim the country’s budget by €11.7 billion and introduce structural reforms as part of the conditions attached to its €130bn international bail-out.
“Greece will stick to its commitments and fulfil its obligations. In fact this is already happening,” Samaras said.
However, he added that the Greek economy needed to recover if the plan was to be implemented in full.
“What Greece needs is a chance at growth,” he said.
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Samaras now heads to Paris, where he will told talks with Hollande tomorrow.
This afternoon, it was announced that Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, will meet Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is tackling his own economic woes, in Madrid on Tuesday.
Van Rompuy will then meet Merkel in Berlin on 4 September and Hollande in Paris the following day.