Merkel urges more German investment in Greece

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Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged that Germany would stand by Greece as it seeks to emerge from a crippling debt crisis and urged German firms to invest in the country to help it back on its feet.

Merkel, speaking at a traditional pre-holiday news conference a day after eurozone leaders and private creditors agreed on a new 159-billion-euro ($229-billion) bailout for Greece, said she was confident Greece could recover.

The chancellor hailed the reform efforts of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, including biting austerity measures aimed at surmounting Athens's mountain of debt.

"I believe that the country (Greece) can succeed and I will devote all my energy to support him," she said.

Merkel said she had asked Economy Minister Philipp Roesler "to speak with businesses about what can be done" to lend a hand to Greece as it launches a major privatisation drive.

Business daily Handelsblatt reported on Friday that Roesler had developed a 16-point plan billed as an "offensive for investment and growth in Greece" outlining opportunities for German firms and institutions.

Roesler has proposed a conference for potential investors as well as German assistance in privatisation efforts -- initiatives on which Merkel said she had signed off, calling them "sensible".

She recalled that Germany, Europe's biggest economy, and Greece had agreed last year to bolster their economic ties and formed a working group at the German foreign ministry to explore ways to do so.

Last year, German exports to Greece represented only 0.6 percent of the total while imports from Greece amounted to just 0.2 percent of total imports.

© 2011 AFP

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