Merkel rejects Hollande call to renegotiate fiscal pact

Updated: 2012-05-08 10:15


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BERLIN - German Chancelor Angela Merke on Monday ruled out renegotiating Europe's new fiscal pact on budget control and austerity, saying the "correct" path of combating eurozone debt crisis would not be toppled simply due to country leader changes.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, Merkel said reopening talks on the fiscal compact agreed during the European summit in March "simply won't happen", dismissing repeated calls from France's President-elect, Socialist Francois Hollande.

The new French leader, who beat Merkel's close ally Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday's election, criticizes Germany's hardline on belt-tightening and budget cuts, maintaining that it was economic growth, rather than harsh austerity, that could pull Europe out of the mess.

Merkel stressed that the hard-earned pact, endorsed by 25 of the European Union's (EU) 27 member states was "correct" as a major way to tackle eurozone's debt crisis and enhance its fiscal management.

"I think that we can't simply re-start discussing everything we have already agreed after an election in a small or big country," Merkel said.

However, Sunday's election in a small and big country, namely Greece and France, indeed indicated voters' widespread rage on tough budget cuts and public welfare reduction.

In France, Hollande, who has been viewed as a challenger to the Germany-dominated solution to debt crisis, said his victory finally gave Europe a notion that austerity can no longer be the only option, while in Greece, two mainstream parties lost absolute majority in parliament and the country's extreme left and right parties, mostly austerity opponents, collected about 60 percent of the votes.

For Athens, Merkel said it is "of utmost importance" that the structural reform and debt cutting plans could continue after the elections, although it would be difficult for the debt-laden country with high unemployment and sluggish economy.

At the press conference, the chancellor did not forget to take a necessary diplomatic tone, saying she would welcome Hallande with "open arms" in Berlin later this month at their first meeting and expect "good and intensive" cooperation with the new French leader.

"We are in the middle of discussions to which France, of course, under its new president, will bring its own contribution. But we are talking about two sides of the coin - progress is only achievable through solid finances plus growth," she added.