BERLIN Oct 13 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
said on Saturday that Greece seemed to be making headway with
its reforms and should stick to the agreements it had made, but
added that the crisis-stricken country should continue to be
given more chances.
"I have the impression that, step-by-step, we are beginning
to see progress there. It's often slower than we had imagined,
but on this front we should give Greece another chance time and
again," she said in a weekly video podcast.
"On the one hand we should demand that the agreements on
which we decided together are kept. But on the other hand we
should, in our role as friends and partners, offer assistance
Merkel said the German government was in close contact with
Earlier this week Merkel visited Greece for the first time
since the euro zone crisis erupted three years ago and while she
reaffirmed Berlin's commitment to keep Greece inside the euro
zone, she offered no concrete relief ahead of a new report on
Greece's reform progress due by next month.
Tens of thousands of angry Greek demonstrators filled the
streets of Athens during the German leader's visit, but in a
further sign of sympathy for the debt-crippled state's people,
Merkel on Saturday defended their protests.
"To be honest I was quite relieved that I could go home, the
people could protest and none of those who did so peacefully
ended up in prison," she said at a regional Christian Democratic
Union (CDU) party conference in the north German town of Celle.
She added that the right to demonstrate was very important
to her because she had spent 34 years of her life in formerly
communist East Germany where demonstrating was forbidden.
"Everyone should be able to express their opinion and then
it will be discussed. That's democracy," she said.
Germany, Europe's largest economy, will defend the euro
against the interests of international financial market players,
many of whom care little for the success of Europe and are
betting that the region does not have the political will to pull
through, Merkel said, adding that this view was wrong.
Against the background of debates about fresh aid for
struggling states like Spain, she called on her party to place
more trust in Germany's euro zone peers.
"We have every reason to place our trust in others," she
said, adding that France and the United States had done this for
Germany after World War Two.
But she said trust could only develop if countries all stick
to their agreements.
"We promised too much, decided too much and never stuck to
it," she said, adding that this needed to change.
Euro zone officials said on Saturday that Spain could ask
for financial aid from the euro zone next month and if it does
the request would likely be dealt with alongside a revised loan
programme for Greece and a bailout for Cyprus in one big
Asked in the video podcast if a European Union in which an
increasing number of member states ask for financial aid was
sustainable, she said: "No of course not. It would be wrong if
things were to stay like this but now the markets are also
testing if we will stay together."
Merkel said she was against turning the EU into a federal
system like the United States: "I don't think we should
Merkel said the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU
on Friday provided motivation to further develop the union.