Germany's leader prodded Greece to implement its austerity program on Monday at what she called a challenging time for the euro, voicing confidence that Athens "can do it."
Faced with large public debt, the Greek government has announced a freeze on public sector salaries and hiring, while raising consumer taxes and retirement ages. However, a team of international inspectors last week urged further cuts.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has the 16-nation euro zone's biggest economy, renewed a call for Athens to enact its "ambitious" austerity program aiming at cutting its budget deficit.
It is important that "Greece really implements its announced program," Merkel said after meeting Spain's prime minister ahead of the CeBIT technology fair in Hannover.
"Greece can do it," Merkel said.
Implementation of the plan should be closely monitored by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in order to restore market trust in Greece, Merkel said.
"This will be the best way of avoiding further speculation against the euro," she added. Merkel said the currency is in a "challenging phase."
Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero both stressed the need to strengthen European economic cooperation and respect the rules underpinning the euro, which are meant to keep down members' budget deficits.
"We have to improve the coordination of our efforts," Merkel said.
Merkel earlier had reiterated her opposition to EU countries bailing out Greece.
"We have a treaty which rules out the possibility of bailing out other nations," Merkel told German broadcaster ARD in an interview Sunday night.
However, she did not explicitly rule out state-owned banks buying bonds issued by Greece, a rescue solution that some media have reported is in the works.
The EU has given Athens until March 16 to show progress with its pledge to cut the deficit by four percent of gross domestic product this year, gradually bringing it to under 3 percent in 2012.
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