Majority of Germans against aid for Greece - poll

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) greet Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (C) at the start of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels March 25, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BERLIN (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Germans oppose their country’s participation in any EU aid package for debt-ridden Greece, a poll taken just before last week’s euro zone agreement on a last-resort financial safety net showed.

The Forsa survey for Stern magazine, conducted on March 24 and 25 and released on Tuesday, highlighted the risks for Chancellor Angela Merkel if a rescue becomes necessary. Some 68 percent of Germans said they were against aid and only 28 percent thought Berlin should help Greece. The findings confirmed a broad trend that has been evident for months.

Euro zone leaders agreed last week to throw Greece a lifeline only if it becomes unable to borrow on the markets. Euro zone states would provide most of the aid as coordinated bilateral loans, on strict conditions, and the IMF would provide the rest. Any help would require unanimous euro zone support.

Merkel, a conservative, long resisted the idea of bailing out Greece, due partly to stiff opposition from the public and from her Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partner and because of fears such a move might set a precedent in the euro zone. Her centre-right coalition faces a crucial test in regional elections in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 in which the government’s majority in the upper house of the federal parliament (Bundesrat) is at stake.

Despite the Greek crisis and turbulence on foreign exchange markets, most Germans still have confidence in the euro, the poll showed.

Some 53 percent of those asked said they viewed the euro as a stable currency with just 44 percent saying they were worried about the common currency.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by Paul Taylor