Merkel, Hollande wish to keep Greece in eurozone

Updated: 2012-05-16 14:57


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BERLIN - Leaders of Germany and France Tuesday held talks on boosting economic growth amid the ongoing European debt crisis and keeping Greece within the eurozone.

"We share the responsibility for a good development in Europe and I think we will find solutions for individual problems in this spirit," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, who just took office hours before his first diplomatic trip.

The newly sworn-in French president said he is willing to build a "balanced" and "respectful" relationship with Germany.

"Carried by this spirit, I believe we will of course find solutions for the different problems," Merkel said.

For his part, Hollande said, "Everything should be put on the table" at the forthcoming informal summit of EU leaders in Brussels on May 23.

"It will be very important that Germany and France present their ideas together at this summit and work closely together to prepare it," Merkel said.

In addition, Hollande affirmed his wish for a renegotiation of the EU fiscal pact, saying that "I said it during my election campaign and I say it again now as president that I want to renegotiate what has been agreed to include a growth dimension."

Referring to this, Merkel said, "Growth has to feed through to the people. And that's why I'm happy that we'll discuss different ideas on how to achieve growth."

Despite their policy differences, both Hollande and Merkel have joined forces to build a workable relationship in order to continue the Franco-German cooperation to fight the eurozone debt crisis.

At the conference, the leaders of the eurozone's two largest economies also expressed their wish for Greece to stay in the single currency bloc.

"We want Greece to stay in the euro," Merkel said. She also said Germany and France were prepared "to study the possibility of additional growth measures in Greece" if Athens said they needed them.

Hollande agreed with Merkel, saying promoting a growth-driven strategy was at the core of his presidential campaign.

"I hope that we can say to the Greeks that Europe is ready to add measures to help growth and support economic activity so that there is a return to growth in Greece," Hollande said.

Earlier in the day, the final critical talks among Greek party leaders failed to form a coalition government after the May 6 parliamentary elections, with the debt-ridden country heading to fresh polls in June.

"Efforts to form a coalition administration ended with no result. On Wednesday a new party leaders meeting will discuss the appointment of a caretaker government to lead the country to repeat elections," the presidency said in a statement.

Greece is suffering from political instability and a financial crisis, fueling fears that the country could face the risk of a chaotic default and an exit from the eurozone. Greece's leaving the single-currency club could send shockwaves across Europe and the international financial system.