Angela Merkel and François Hollande consult

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Before the special summit meeting in Brussels Angela Merkel and François Hollande consult

There is currently no basis on which a concrete assistance programme for Greece could be negotiated, declared Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, but the door remains open for talks.

3 min reading time

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande sit on a sofa deep in discussion; to their right and left their interpreters.

The door is still open for discussion, say the Chancellor and the President at their pre-summit meeting

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

"We respect this decision, which is the vote of a sovereign country." This was the response of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to the outcome of the Greek referendum. With their vote, the majority of the Greek people have rejected the last offer of the creditors. Angela Merkel said it is now a question of dealing with this decision.

On Monday evening the Chancellor met French President François Hollande in Paris. At lunchtime she spoke by telephone with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Solidarity and responsibility

European Council President Donald Tusk has called a meeting of the Eurogroup heads of state and government for today in Brussels. The Chancellor commented that now that the Greek people have had their say, it is time to hear the views of the 18 other euro-zone states.

The essential – European – principle of solidarity and responsibility applies. "We have shown Greece great solidarity," said Angela Merkel and pointed to the "generous last offer". But, she added, Europe can only hold together and stand together "if every country accepts its responsibility".

On Monday lunchtime federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said in Berlin that the result of the referendum was a rejection of the fundamental principle on which European assistance is based, the principle according to which solidarity and responsibility are inseparably linked. The German government still affirms its commitment to this principle.

The door remains open

Angela Merkel said quite clearly that the door remains open for talks. This is why the heads of state and government of euro-zone states will meet on Tuesday. This means that it is important which precise proposals Alexis Tsipras submits for a medium-term growth programme for his country.

Proposals to be submitted this week

"Time is of the essence," said Angela Merkel. "We will attach great importance to the Greek Prime Minister submitting proposals before the end of this week" to resolve the current situation.

Responding to speculation about a "Grexit" Steffen Seibert said at lunchtime, "Greece is a member of the euro zone." It is, however, up to the Greek government to act such that this can remain the case.

No question of trimming debt

According to the Federal Ministry of Finance there is still no question of any trimming of Greek’s debt. Germany’s position has not changed at all, said Martin Jäger, spokesperson of the Federal Finance Ministry. He pointed out that according to the currently valid ESM agreement, a multi-step procedure will be required for any new assistance programme for Greece. The German Bundestag will also have to approve this.

Assistance for the Greek people

Steffen Seibert promised German support for the Greek people. Germany will be exploring ways of helping the Greeks, he said.

The ball is in Athens’ court

Speaking in Vienna, where he was attending negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "We must accept" the results of the referendum. It is first and foremost up to Greece to decide what conclusions must be drawn. "The ball is in Athens’ court."