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Merkel talks tough on Greece

Nicole GoebelJune 18, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel firmly believes a deal with Greece is possible if Athens acts responsibly. But she made it clear that EU solidarity did not come for free and that "painful" reforms were inevitable.

Deutschland Merkel Regierungserklärung
Image: Reuters/H. Hanschke

In a speech to the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, Merkel did not mince her words, telling Athens that Greece had experienced an "unprecedented amount of European solidarity" and that a deal with its creditors was still possible.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Merkel stressed, adding that Greece was not the only country that needs help and that Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus had successfully implemented "painful" reforms or were "on the right track."

She urged Athens to do the same and emphasized that all efforts were "directed at Greece staying in the eurozone," if it is willing to compromise. "Solidarity and responsibility go hand in hand," she told lawmakers.

Merkel's speech came ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday. The meeting is seen as one of the last chances to break the deadlock in stalled negotiations on Greece accessing 7.2 billion euros (8.1 billion dollars) remaining from a bailout by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Merkel also made clear that she did not want the UK to leave the bloc, saying that she wanted London as "a strong partner" in the EU. She said she thought of Britain as a model for "competitiveness" which the EU and the eurozone needed to improve and prioritize.

But she also said the UK needed to make clear "what role it wants to play" in the EU.

Merkel opened her speech with a call for EU-wide standards for dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. She said Europe needed to fight the causes of people fleeing and being displaced.