Europe without the euro ′unthinkable,′ says Merkel | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 22.07.2011

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Europe without the euro 'unthinkable,' says Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel has used her annual summer press conference to defend the Greek rescue package. She also took questions on controversial weapons exports, claiming a balance needed to be struck.

Chancellor Angela Merkel with journalists

Merkel was in upbeat mood for her summer press conference

Chancellor Angela Merkel faced journalists in Berlin on Friday in the traditional press conference before the summer break, proclaiming Germany's "historic duty" to help rescue the euro and commending the Greek deal reached at an emergency euro summit the day before as a "significant step."

Merkel dismissed claims that the second bailout for Greece - an additional 110 billion euros ($158 billion) - will result in surging costs for eurozone members. She said she would do everything to keep the costs for the Greek rescue "as low as possible" and spoke of any costs that would arise as "investments in Europe's future."

"A Europe without the euro is unthinkable," she said. "The effort we have invested in Europe and in the euro we will get back many times over. It is an undeniable part of Germany's economic success," she added.

Economic growth rates

Merkel also offered an upbeat forecast for the German economy, with growth expected to reach a similar level this year to the 2010 rate. She said she hoped the trend would spread to the rest of Europe.

French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel

Sarkozy and Merkel came to an agreement on the rescue package ahead of the summit

"We want Europe to come out of this crisis stronger than when it entered it."

Under the new terms Greece will have longer to pay back its debts, at a lower interest rate. Creditors would also voluntarily agree to forego some of the money that they were owed, a requirement of certain EU nations including Germany.

France had earlier been cautious about private creditors being forced to pay, ahead of the broad agreement reached between Merkel and French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of the summit.

Members of the opposition Left party have called for creditors to be legally obliged to make the payments. The largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, have said that the fundamental issue -that Greece was not in a position to pay its debts - had still not been addressed.

However, Merkel defended her handling of the crisis, declaring herself to be "a passionate European."

Bahrain protests

Saudi Arabia was involved in a crackdown in Bahrain

"If I had as much passion for everything as I have for Europe, my day would last 48 hours," she told the conference.

Balance of security and democracy

The chancellor also defended a decision to export tanks to Saudi Arabia, responding to criticism sparked by Saudi assistance to the Gulf island state of Bahrain in a crackdown on civil unrest.

Merkel said that her government had to consider regional security and stability as well as promoting human rights and democratic values. "It is always a question of balance," she said.

Merkel also spoke of her desire to run for chancellor for a third time in 2013. "As you can see, I am enjoying my job very much," she said. "It is not possible to see that changing any time soon."

Author: Richard Connor (APF,dpa)

Editor: Susan Houlton

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