* Greek people making big sacrifices to overcome crisis,
* Germany's Merkel backs Samaras reforms
* Merkel says EU must agree more reforms by June summit
BERLIN, Jan 8 Greece is making enormous efforts
to get its economy back on track despite the pain this involves
for its citizens, its prime minister Antonis Samaras said on
Tuesday on a visit to Germany, chief champion of austerity in
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has praised the reform
drive of Samaras' coalition government, said the whole European
Union faces hard work in the coming months to reach agreement on
closer economic ties aimed at ending the debt crisis.
"I would like at the outset to make clear that our country
is making enormous efforts, accompanied by great sacrifices, to
get things back on the right path," Samaras told reporters
before his talks with Merkel.
"We are trying to win back credibility, among the peoples of
Europe and among the financial markets," he said, adding that
Greece had adopted a raft of measures to achieve this goal and
to get liquidity flowing to businesses again.
"This and investments are the two big elements which are
necessary for our country, a country that is indeed suffering a
great deal, above all from the scourge of unemployment,
especially among young people."
Greece, which has received tens of billions of euros in
emergency loans from its euro zone partners since mid-2010 to
stave off bankruptcy, is expected to see its economy shrink for
the sixth consecutive year in 2013.
But the Samaras government has won praise, including from
Merkel who visited Athens last autumn, for implementing tough
austerity measures that Germany and other euro zone countries
have demanded in return for their continued financial support.
Reflecting Greece's improved standing in the euro zone,
Samaras held talks in Bavaria last month with leaders of the
Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel's conservative coalition
partner that has been very critical in the past of Athens'
failure to meet tough fiscal targets under its international
Greek business and household bank deposits rose for a third
consecutive month in November due to receding fears that Greece
may quit the euro zone.
Merkel, who was due to attend an economic conference in
Berlin with Samaras later on Tuesday, said the two leaders would
discuss on Tuesday ways of boosting economic growth and creating
"We will also speak about the European agenda since we must
agree by June a strengthening of economic coordination," she
said, referring to the EU's mid-year summit.
EU leaders are discussing plans for deeper economic and
monetary union including tighter banking supervision.