German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Greece has to play by the euro area’s rules if it wants aid, and left the door open to talks.
With aid negotiations suspended, the comments signal a united front by two leaders on opposite sides of Europe’s north-south divide as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urges his citizens to vote against austerity in a referendum Sunday.
“We have to keep to the rules we’ve given ourselves,” Merkel told reporters after hosting Renzi in Berlin on Wednesday. “As long as we are within a shared community, that is Europe, what is important is to keep rules, shared rules,” Renzi said. “We have to reach a common position eventually.”
While both said they’re ready to hold further aid talks with Tsipras’s government, Renzi reiterated it’s unthinkable for Italy to help fund Greek pensions. Greece can’t escape “comprehensive reforms,” Merkel said.
With French President Francois Hollande urging a swift aid deal for Greece that meets “European rules,” the leaders of the euro area’s three biggest economies joined to press Tsipras to resume talks on economic-policy changes sought by Greece’s creditors.
In a speech to Germany’s lower house of parliament earlier Wednesday, Merkel said she won’t agree to a deal at any price.
“Yes, these are turbulent days and indeed a lot is at stake,” she said. “The world is looking at us. But the future of Europe is not at stake. The future of Europe would be at stake if we forgot who we are and what makes us strong: a union based on the rule of law and responsibility. If we were to forget that, the euro would fail and Europe with it.”
Merkel, who has backed euro-area bailouts since Europe’s debt crisis spread from Greece in 2010, said bigger matters are at stake than haggling over aid payouts to Greece.
“I want Europe to emerge from this crisis stronger than at the start so we can be strong in competition with China, India, South America,” she said. “That’s what it’s about, not whether a dispute over 400 million or 1.5 or 2 billion euros can be resolved or not.”