German president urges Slovakia to back euro bailout

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Germany's President Christian Wulff urged Slovakia Tuesday to back the eurozone rescue fund which the 2009 eurozone entrant has been delaying and could even vote down in parliament.

"We need to stick together, express solidarity. If we don't there will be consequences for all of us," Wulff said after meeting his Slovak counterpart in Bratislava.

Slovakia's government led by Prime Minister Iveta Radicova officially supports expanding the eurozone's existing bailout mechanism and giving it new powers as agreed by eurozone leaders in July.

But her four-party coalition, which commands a majority of 79 seats in the 150-member parliament, cannot push the rescue package through without the 22 votes of its junior partner, the eurosceptic Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party.

SaS leader and speaker of parliament Richard Sulik has repeatedly vowed his party will torpedo Slovakia's approval of the rescue fund. Wulff was to meet Sulik later on Tuesday.

Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic said he would do all he could to help negotiate a compromise among the coalition partners.

"It's high time to act in a responsible way. Slovakia cannot be an obstacle to stabilisation of the euro and solution to the crisis," Gasparovic said.

"Slovakia's place lies within the eurozone and I believe politicians will keep that in mind for the crucial vote," he added.

Among the poorest eurozone members, ex-communist Slovakia was the only country to refuse to participate in an emergency loan for Greece last year.

Wulff said he understood Slovakia's reluctance to help rich, indebted EU partners.

"Slovakia has done everything right, met the criteria for euro adoption, its citizens had to tighten their belts and they view the current situation as unfair," he said.

"If all eurozone member states will behave according to the rules we can handle the problems," he said, adding that a stable euro was good for the export-based Slovakian economy.

© 2011 AFP

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