PARIS: French President Francois Hollande said Greek leaders must demonstrate their commitment to push through reforms and that Europe must take decisions on the country as soon as possible following a progress report by Athens’ international lenders.
Hollande also said following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Saturday that Greece must stay in the euro zone, echoing comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who held similar talks with Samaras on Friday.
“It (Greece) must demonstrate again the credibility of its programme and the will of its leaders to go through with it to the end, whilst ensuring it’s bearable for the population,” Hollande told reporters.
“On the European side, we are waiting for the troika report,” he said, referring to the grouping of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. “Once we have this report, once the commitments ... are confirmed, Europe has to do what it has to do.
“We’ve been facing this question for 2-1/2 years. There’s no time to lose -- there are commitments to reaffirm on both sides, decisions to take, and the sooner the better. That means after the troika report at the European summit in October.”
Samaras said he had assured the French president that Greece was determined to overcome the debt crisis and remain in the euro zone, which would show that Europe was capable of solving its problems.
“Some are betting that Greece will not make it. I am here to assure the French president that Greece is determined to make it and it will. (It will) do whatever is needed to overcome its crisis and remain in the euro zone and play the role it merits in European integration,” he said.
The Greek leader added that economic recovery was crucial to help it meet its targets.
Merkel on Friday reassured Samaras that she wanted Greece to stay in the euro zone, but gave no sign of ceding to his pleas for more time to meet the tough terms of Athens’ international bailout.
Merkel also stuck doggedly to her policy of deferring to the troika report, though she did say that she and Hollande were in no doubt they wanted Greece to stay in the single currency.
The French and German leaders had coordinated their stance on Greece over dinner in Berlin on Thursday.
Trying to emulate the “Merkozy” partnership under Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative Merkel and the Socialist French president showed a united front, insisting Greece must meet its targets before any new discussion of terms.
The markets have been optimistic that Europe — and particularly the ECB — will finally come up with decisive action in a busy month of euro diplomacy in September to resolve the shared currency bloc’s sovereign debt crisis.
Samaras said in a German newspaper interview earlier this week that Greece can stay afloat if it receives its next tranche of aid later than October, but will be broke if the money does not arrive.