Tags: EU | Germany | Greece | Financial | Crisis

Germany Welcomes Greek Plan, But Rejects Aid

Wednesday, 03 Mar 2010 10:54 AM

Germany welcomed Greece's new austerity plan as an important step toward restoring market confidence but made clear Wednesday that it is not currently planning to pledge aid to Athens.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Greece had taken an "important step" toward realizing its goal of cutting its budget deficit.

"This is a very important signal to strengthen markets' confidence again in Greece and so also in the euro," she said.

Germany — the biggest economy in the 16-nation euro zone — has stressed repeatedly that Greece bears the main responsibility for overcoming its debt crisis

"I believe there is no alternative to Greece doing its homework," Merkel said. "And I am very glad and satisfied that the Greek government, and the Greek prime minister, are sparing no effort to go down this path, which is difficult but without alternative."

Merkel is to meet Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Berlin on Friday.

"We will speak once again about the implementation of these measures," Merkel said. "On Friday, it will — I want to say this explicitly — not be about pledges of aid, but about a good relationship between ... Germany and Greece."

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that "the decisions by the Greek cabinet go in the right direction and deserve our respect."

"Our Greek partners thereby show their responsibility for Europe and the common currency," Schaeuble said in a statement. "Now, it is decisive for Greece to speedily and fully implement all its decisions."

That would allow Greece to restore trust and refinance its debt on the markets, Schaeuble said.

A government spokesman, Christoph Steegmans, refused to confirm reports in the Bild and Handelsblatt newspapers that Merkel met with senior officials Tuesday night to discuss Greece. He said only "there are always talks between Cabinet members" and he couldn't comment on confidential discussions.

In an open letter to the Stern weekly, Greek parliamentary president Philippos Petsalnikos urged Germans to show some empathy for his nation.

"It is not your money, but your solidarity and your understanding that Greece needs to defend itself against attacks from international speculators," Petsalnikos wrote in comments released Wednesday.

Greece has been the target of scathing headlines in German media, accusing the southern nation of "busting" the euro and "swindling" its 15 partner nations that use the euro.

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