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Merkel Signals She Will Keep Austerity Pressure on Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated she will maintain pressure on Greece to meet debt-cutting pledges required for its second financial rescue, saying fiscal discipline is needed to hold the euro area together.

“If you have a single currency you naturally have to be able to trust each other,” she told members of her Christian Democratic Union party in Demmin, Germany, today. While “it is right” to bail out Greece, Portugal and Ireland, “we have to say again and again that everyone must do their homework because otherwise this Europe can’t hold together.”

Merkel’s renewed backing for European unity in the face of the debt crisis marked her first public comments since euro-area finance ministers signed off yesterday on a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue for Greece aimed at averting the first sovereign default in the currency union’s 13-year history.

Addressing the crowd at an Ash Wednesday rally in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the eastern state where she has her electoral district, Merkel said austerity measures imposed by Greek leaders as conditions for the country’s two bailouts mean “we are asking a lot” of average Greeks. Greece must turn into a “properly functioning state,” she said.

Merkel, who has said in recent weeks she wants Greece to remain in the 17-nation euro area, said Germany is too small “to stand alone” in Europe.

“But it has to be a Europe in which we all pull in the same direction, by standing together, by following solid economic policies, by everyone doing their homework,” she said. “Then we can promote our interests together.”

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