Merkel says wants a strong Greece in euro area
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Germany wanted to see a strong Greece in the eurozone and reiterated her pledge to offer help as the debt-wracked nation tackles its economic crisis.
Speaking ahead of a hotly anticipated working dinner with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Merkel said: "We want a strong Greece in the euro area ... Germany is ready to give all the help required" as Athens implements reforms.
"I have heard -- and we will discuss this tonight -- that Greece is prepared to meet the expectations of the EU, IMF and ECB and we will talk about how we can be helpful in detail tonight," said Merkel.
A group of international auditors from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund would "soon" return to Athens to assess the state of Greece's reform efforts, she said.
Earlier Tuesday, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker had said the international auditors, who hold the keys to the eight-billion-euro ($11 billion) handout that Athens needs to pay the bills, would return Wednesday or Thursday.
Merkel said the international community would "follow the advice of the troika", referring to the auditors.
For his part, Papandreou reiterated that Greece was determined to implement reforms "not only to overcome the present crisis, but to make Greece more competitive."
Speaking to German business leaders in a speech earlier Tuesday, Papandreou said Greece was making "superhuman" efforts to tackle the crisis, which US President Barack Obama said was "scaring the world."
Nevertheless, he expressed his frustration at criticisms levelled at Greece and said that "punishment and scorn" was not helping matters.
For her part, Merkel rebuffed calls for an economic stimulus package to spend Europe's way out of the crisis, saying that a debt problem could not be tackled with more debt.
The chancellor also reiterated that she was "confident" she would secure parliamentary approval on Thursday in a key vote on expanding the EU-IMF's rescue fund without having to rely on the opposition amid a backbench rebellion.
© 2011 AFP