Germany can rest assured, Greece is not an economic basket case and can emerge from its deep economic crisis.
That was the gist of Greek prime minister George Papandreou’s message to German business leaders at their conference in Berlin, where he was welcomed by Chancellor Merkel.
He said Greece had made “superhuman” efforts to tackle its debt crisis, and called on Germany to view aid as an opportunity.
“First of all, Greece does have great potential, we are not a poor country, we were a mismanaged country. Now is not the time to rebuild walls in Europe. Europe must keep moving forward toward permanent integration, build solidly on social justice and sustainable growth,” he said.
Thursday sees a key vote in Germany over plans to boost the powers of the euro zone’s bailout fund.
Thanks to opposition backing, they should be approved. But many Germans are against moves they believe will lead to their country underwriting the entire bloc.
Merkel sought to reassure them:
“Whoever believes they can obtain something by acting alone to create long-term prosperity is mistaken. And if Europe is doing badly, well Germany will not do well either in the medium term, that’s the basic rule to which we should adhere,” she said.
Outside the conference, protesters made clear their hostility to austerity measures.
Merkel and Papandreou are to meet on Tuesday night to consider the latest European moves to save Greece and the euro.
Amid continued divisions among member states, EU officials say no grand plan of action has been agreed.