French President Francois Hollande told Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that his government must demonstrate commitment to overhauling its economy so Europe can do its part and move on from the debt crisis.
“Greece needs once again to demonstrate the credibility of its program and the determination of its leaders to go all the way,” Hollande said at a joint press conference with Samaras after talks in Paris today. “Once these commitments, which are not only financial but about structural reforms that the Greeks want, have been ratified by parliament and confirmed, Europe must do its part.”
While Hollande repeated his view that he wants Greece to stay in the euro, his remarks underline the hardening of France’s position since Greece’s budget troubles were first made public in late 2009. Samaras, for his part, said that he’s determined to keep his country in the 17-nation single currency.
“Many say Greece won’t make it, that it can’t stay in the euro,” Samaras said. “I came here to say Greece will make it, it will stay in the euro zone.”
Samaras also addressed Hollande’s concern directly, saying the Greek government will meet its obligations. “Of course we need to make an effort,” he said. “We can keep our promises and goals, reduce our deficit and debt, accomplish structural reforms.”
The meeting comes a day after Samaras held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Merkel said that Germany will stand behind the Greek government as it struggles to overhaul the economy and that she is “deeply convinced” Samaras will make every effort to solve the country’s problems.
“I want Greece to stay in the euro zone and that’s what I’m working for,” Merkel said yesterday. “Fulfilling commitments and expectations will lead to a return of confidence in the euro zone.”
Samaras has used interviews this week with German and French newspapers to call for more time to meet the targets set under its bailout agreement. European officials are awaiting a report next month by the so-called troika of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund on Greece’s fiscal progress.
Hollande said today that both Greece and Europe need to put the turmoil behind them as quickly as possible.
“It’s now been 2 1/2 years,” he said. “There’s no more time to be lost.”