Merkel expresses 'respect' for Papandreou stepping down
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday expressed her "respect" during a phone call with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for his decision to step down, her spokesman said.
"The chancellor, for her part, expressed her respect for the decision of the prime minister and, from her side, expressed thanks for the good cooperation," Steffen Seibert told reporters at a regular press briefing.
"With courage and the ability to see measures through, he has put his country on the right path, and he had to overcome much resistance," he said.
Papandreou had understood that Greece needed far-reaching structural reforms and austerity measures which was "an arduous path with hardships for millions of Greeks", Seibert added.
"But it is also an unavoidable path," he said.
Papandreou and the head of Greece's main opposition party, conservative Antonis Samaras, are holding negotiations on naming a new interim leader tasked with fulfilling the requirements of a massive EU bailout deal.
The historic power-sharing deal was reached in late-night talks Sunday after Papandreou agreed to quit. The embattled premier drew widespread criticism over plans to put the debt-bailout package to a referendum.
Both Merkel and Papandreou agreed the transition government must now urgently oversee the complete implementation of all decisions taken by EU leaders in Cannes last month before early elections are held, Seibert said.
© 2011 AFP