BERLIN Germany does not want a "German Europe" and believes no single country can take a leading role, yet Berlin does have a special responsibility for the path to exiting the euro zone crisis, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wrote in an editorial.
"It is a completely absurd idea, to think that the Germans want to play the role of leader in Europe... We do not want a 'German Europe'," Schaeuble wrote in a piece to be published in five European newspapers on Saturday, and made available in German on Friday.
But he added, "at the same time Germany believes it has a special responsibility for the mutually agreed pathway for solving the euro zone crisis. We assume this leadership responsibility above all in conjunction with our French friends."
Much discussion about Germany during the euro zone crisis has been contradictory, he noted, with some criticizing Berlin for doing too much, others too little.
"It is a misconception to think that in Europe one country should or could lead. Germany's reserve isn't only because of our guilt-laden history. The particular political composition of Europe simply does not lend itself to the notion of one nation leading and others following," he added.
"Germans least of all could tolerate a 'German Europe'. We want rather to see a Germany helping economic recovery in Europe, without itself becoming weak in the process," he said.
Sound financing and creating the right conditions to keep pace with global competition were not German ideas, Schaeuble said, but rather the necessary steps for a secure future.
Schaeuble visited Athens on Thursday in a trip presented by the Greek government as a show of support by one of its biggest creditors. But he also bluntly told Greeks to stop asking for a second debt write-down following a restructuring last year that imposed massive losses on private holders of Greek bonds.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)