BERLIN - French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed their desire to keep the eurozone together on Tuesday, as political strife in Greece threatened to push it out of the club.
Speaking after their first-ever talks, Merkel said: “We want Greece to stay in the euro”, a desire Hollande said he shared.
The chancellor said that the two European powerhouses were prepared “to study the possibility of additional growth measures in Greece” if Athens said they needed them.
The two made an effort to stress unity, with Merkel saying there were “points in common” with Hollande on the way to boost growth in the eurozone, after rifts between the two on the best solution for the crisis.
“We are aware of the responsibility that we have as France and Germany for a good development in Europe and I think there we will find solutions for individual problems in this spirit,” said Merkel.
She said their differences were less pronounced than the media portrayal.
However, Hollande said he was prepared to “put everything on the table” at a forthcoming informal summit of EU leaders in Brussels on May 23, including the topic of eurobonds, which creates friction with Germany.
He also reiterated his wish to renegotiate the EU fiscal pact, a treaty aiming to instill greater budgetary discipline in Europe, pushed through by Merkel, who is opposed to any changes to the text.
Hollande for his part called for “balanced” and “respectful” relations with Germany, as Europe waits to see if the continent’s top two economies can find solutions to a crisis that could yet tear the euro project apart.