France: Greece Must Stay in Eurozone

Posted August 25th, 2012 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Francois Hollande says Greece must stay in the European currency union and he has encouraged Greek leaders to make sure economic reforms they enact can be borne by the Greek people.

Mr. Hollande met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Paris Saturday to talk about the country's bailout plan. The French president said Greece must demonstrate the credibility of its plan for relieving its economic woes.

Mr. Samaras said Saturday he is confident Greece will remain in the eurozone . However, he has been telling fellow European leaders that Greece must have more time to put into effect the big spending cuts that the EU insists upon in return for financial assistance.

The meeting in Paris followed Mr. Samaras' talks in Berlin on Friday German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Both she and Mr. Hollande say they will await a progress report on Greece's reform efforts, due next month, before deciding on Athens' request for up to two more years to meet its financial goals.

The German and French leaders both say they want Greece to stay in the eurozone.

Auditors from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank will prepare the Greek progress report, and their conclusions could have an impact on the timing of the bailout package.

The current assistance plan by the EU and IMF, valued at slightly more than $160 billion , obliges Athens to put sweeping economic reforms in effect and slash domestic spending by about $13 billion in 2013 and 2014.

Despite 23 percent unemployment and a fifth year of recession in Greece, Mr. Samaras says his government can keep functioning until October, but the country's future solvency depends on the bailout package.

Finance ministers of the eurozone countries are to meet in Luxembourg on October 8, 10 days before European heads of state and government meet in Brussels.