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Thursday 21 August 2014

Merkel praises Ireland but vows ‘no change’ to eurozone crisis strategy

Published 23/09/2013 | 14:42

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel

THE German Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised Ireland’s work on reforming its finances – but has said she will not change strategy on how to tackle the eurozone crisis.

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She was speaking after her conservative party secured an emphatic victory in her country's federal election.

"Our course of European policy will not change,” she told a press conference when asked about Ireland.

"Ireland has made good progress, this progress was not made in Germany it was made in Ireland on the basis of the Irish understanding that things had gone wrong in the past few years.

"I'm grateful to my colleague Enda Kenny for implementing the reforms so passionately. Ireland is one of those examples where it can be shown that things are improving."

She continued: "Ireland has remarkably lower yields [on its bonds]. I want to express my sincere respect for what Ireland has achieved over the past couple of years. Those developments are good and important for Ireland."

Ms Merkel began trying to persuade her centre-left rivals to keep her in power today after her conservatives notched up their best election result in more than two decades but fell short of an absolute majority.

Even the chancellor's political foes acknowledged she was the big winner of the first German vote since the euro crisis began in 2010, which thrust the pastor's daughter from East Germany into the role of Europe's dominant leader.

But despite leading her conservatives to their best result since 1990, with 41.5 percent of votes putting them five seats short of the first absolute majority in parliament in over half a century, 59-year-old Merkel had little time to celebrate.

"We are, of course, open for talks and I have already had initial contact with the SPD (Social Democratic Party) chairman, who said the SPD must first hold a meeting of its leaders on Friday," Merkel told a news conference, adding that she did not rule out talks with other potential coalition partners.

Her SPD arch-rivals were plainly preparing to play hardball in any talks on repeating the 'grand coalition' led by Merkel from 2005-2009, which worked well for Merkel in her first term but cost the SPD millions of leftist votes.

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