Merkel Wants Greece in Euro Zone, Makes No Concessions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to offer Greece no new concessions over debt repayment in talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Berlin on Friday, but maintained her line that she wanted Athens to stay in the Eurozone.
"From the very start of this long crisis, I have said Greece is part of the eurozone, and I want it to remain so," she said after talks with Samaras.
"I have been guided by this in all our talks," she added, as cited by RIA Novosti.
"Greece can expect Germany won't make premature judgements but will await the troika report," Merkel stated, referring to the report due in September from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, which will decide if Greece has done enough to cut its budget to deserve further tranches of bailout cash.
The Troika has recently returned to Greece following its elections in June this year in order to monitor Athens' finances.
Under the terms of the bailout agreement signed with the troika of international lenders, Greece must convince its creditors it can cut EUR 11.5 B from the state budget within the next two years to be able to receive the much-needed loans from the second package of the EUR 130 B aid. Greece owes Germany alone over EUR 100 B.
Even in this case, however, the bailout funds will not suffice for Greece to meet all of its obligations.
Merkel again stressed that the problem was not only about the country's debt, but a lack of confidence.
"We have to win trust again. In order to do this, we must justify expectations," Merkel said.
Merkel's comments appeared to give little concession to Samaras, who again repeated his call for measures to help ease the pain of austerity, saying Greece needs "an opportunity to grow," in a plea for more time to implement cuts.
He refused to answer journalists directly when asked if he had asked Merkel for support for a request to the European Commission to extend the schedule for austerity measures.
"Now, with the help of great sacrifice, we have to get back to what we had before. Today we talked about priorities and the main priority is economic growth," Samaras said.
"I'm sure the Troika report will show that the new government will deliver success very quickly," Samaras said. "We are a very proud nation and we don't like being in debt," he added.
Some media had previously reported, referring to German government sources, that Germany, which has spoken out against the provision of a third rescue package to Greece, might agree to ease the Greek austerity measures and extend the deadline to 2015.
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