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Patience is a virtue

September 10, 2011

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Germans to have patience with Greece's pace of economic reform while her own coalition partners and other European leaders openly speculate about Athens leaving the eurozone.

Chancellor Merkel in front of Greek flag
Merkel has rejected the idea of Greece leaving the eurozone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on her compatriots to have patience with Greece, comparing the southeastern European country's economic woes and attempts at reform with the re-unification of former West Germany and communist East Germany two decades ago.

"What hasn't been done in years cannot be done overnight," Merkel - who grew up in East Germany - told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel on Saturday.

"Remember the re-unification process," the chancellor continued. "How much time it took in the early 1990s to rebuild new administrative infrastructures, share know-how and privatize."

"We must be patient," she said.

Coalition tensions

Merkel's coalition partners, however, remain skeptical of Greece's ability to meet its promises of economic reform and have taken a harder line toward the indebted Mediterranean nation.

EU flag, Parthenon
Northern EU member states are losing patience with AthensImage: picture alliance / dpa

The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, raised the specter of ejecting Greece from the euro currency union in a policy paper obtained by the Reuters news agency.

"Euro states which do not stick to the common rules of budget discipline and so bring the currency union into difficulties must expect to have to leave the currency union," the paper states.

Growing pessimism

Merkel has repeatedly rejected the prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone, saying such a measure would cause a "domino effect" that would destabilize the entire currency union.

"Greece knows that credit is only available if it meets its obligations," Merkel said.

A growing number of officials from northern European countries, however, have openly speculated about highly indebted nations abandoning the euro.

"Countries which are not prepared to be placed under administratorship can choose to use the possibility to leave the eurozone," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Kyle James

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