Merkel welcomes Greek confidence vote victory
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday hailed a confidence vote victory by the Greek government as an "important step" in resolving a perilous debt crisis.
"It is an important step and we will see the next step next week," she told deputies from parliament's foreign affairs committee, referring to a debate on budget reforms imposed by Athens's European and International Monetary Fund creditors.
She added that she had spoken to Prime Minister George Papandreou by telephone earlier Wednesday.
The Greek government pulled through a confidence vote early Wednesday, with Papandreou having called for support "to avoid bankruptcy and keep Greece in the euro core."
The prime minister was to hold an inner cabinet meeting in the afternoon to approve a law for an austerity drive worth more than 28 billion euros ($40 billion) by 2015.
The measures also include a vast privatisation programme to raise 50 billion euros, but the plan faces deep opposition from some quarters.
The European Union, which last year rescued Greece from bankruptcy with a huge loan supported by the IMF, set an ultimatum for Greece to enact the austerity and privatisation measures to qualify for an immediate lifeline of 12 billion euros under last year's 110-billion-euro rescue.
Germany is the biggest single contributor among eurozone countries to the rescue but polls indicate most voters oppose further aid for Greece.
© 2011 AFP