Wednesday 13 November 2019

Greece must be part of EU "story" says Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Greece to remain part of the European
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Greece to remain part of the European "story" (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Nick Squires

As Greeks prepare to vote in a general election that could test their membership of the eurozone to breaking point, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted the country to remain part of the European "story".

Tomorrow's election is expected to be won by the radical-leftist party Syriza. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, has threatened to renege on at least half of the billions of dollars in debt that Greece owes its creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

He has railed against the austerity policies imposed by the EU, largely blaming Germany for a programme of fiscal rigour that over the last five years has led to 25pc unemployment, growing poverty and a catastrophic contraction of the Greek economy.

Analysts say his threat to renege on Greece's €31bn debt could, in the worst-case scenario, force Greece's expulsion from the eurozone and result in a return to the drachma.

The German Chancellor, speaking in Florence during a press conference with Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, said: "At the heart of our principles lies solidarity. I want Greece, despite the difficulties, to remain part of our story."

The Italian premier echoed the remarks, saying he was "not worried" about the results of the election. "I respect the citizens' choice and from next week the 27 (EU) partners will work with" whoever wins the election.

The latest polls indicated that Syriza, a coalition of Marxists, Communists and disaffected socialists from the once dominant Pasok party, has a lead of more than 5pc over its nearest rival, New Democracy, a centre-right party that has implemented deeply unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts over the last two years. On the final day of campaigning, Mr Tsipras appealed to Greeks to give him enough votes to secure an outright majority. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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