Greece, Germany regret barbs traded in eurozone crisis

29th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany and Greece said Tuesday they both favoured limited change to European treaties to battle the debt crisis and regretted the drama had strained relations between their countries.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of Germany, the paymaster for the EU's bailout fund for stricken states, and his counterpart Stavros Dimas of Greece, the most debt-mired state in the eurozone, said they were now on the same page.

"I am pleased that we are both working for limited changes to the European treaties," Westerwelle told a joint press conference.

"This is not about reinventing Europe, it is about eliminating structural problems so that we do not land in crisis situations again and again."

He reiterated Germany's view that such changes could include new powers for the European Court of Justice in punishing spendthrift member states.

Dimas also called for "limited treaty change" and said the 27 European Union member states would have to hammer out proposals in the run-up to a crunch summit in Brussels next week.

"We need to look at all the proposals and then decide. But the fact that the treaties should be changed -- that is something we must all agree to," he said.

Leaders from the 27 EU states will gather on December 8-9 to examine proposals on integrating economies, including setting new rules covering national budgets and strict sanctions to ensure enforcement and rebuild market confidence.

Germany has said that if it is impossible to win the agreement of all 27 members, as is highly likely, it would settle for treaty changes covering only the 17 countries using the euro common currency.

Westerwelle said Berlin and Athens had moved beyond the barbs traded at the start of the eurozone turmoil, when outspoken German commentators told Greece it should sell its islands to pay off its debts and Greek critics slammed a domineering tone from Germany.

"There were certain faux pas in our societies," he said.

"That should not be confused with the majority opinion of our peoples or with the views of politicians. We know that when a few demonstrators paint a (Nazi) swastika on the German flag and have themselves filmed, that has nothing to do with Greece."

Dimas was also upbeat: "I would like to assure you that Greek-German ties will become even stronger especially after working together out of this crisis."

© 2011 AFP

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