Belfast Telegraph

Papandreou rejects offers of help

The leaders of Germany and France have offered moral support to Greece and sought to damp down speculation prompted by the country's debt crisis, which is hurting the euro.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, ‘we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Greece’, but added she wanted reliable information ‘about what Greece is actually doing’.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said ‘we wanted to shoulder our responsibility’ by offering political support to Greece.

He added: “It is not in our interest to foster whatever speculation some will indulge in.”

But EU nations offered no firm financial support for Greece at yesterday’s summit. EU leaders said they would seek advice from the International Monetary Fund for an assessment of Greece's situation due in March.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said he will join in monitoring Greece's budget cuts — and planning new ones if necessary.

He said: “One can count on our permanent alertness.

“I confirm that the ECB will work with the (European) Commission in this exercise of monitoring the implementation of the Greek recommendations and will work with the Commission in working out proposals for needed additional measures,” he told reporters after meeting EU leaders in Brussels.

Greek prime minister George Papandreou later said his country ‘will not be needing help’ amid its debt crisis. After the offer from EU leaders of political but not financial support, he said: “Today the EU conveyed a crystal clear message to the market.”

He said Greece convinced his EU partners ‘we mean business’, adding that his country had ‘never asked for any help’ and ‘will not be needing help’ in the future.

The euro currency is facing its worst crisis in its 11-year history amid the Greek debt crisis and EU leaders are seeking to calm speculation that it could spread to other vulnerable countries.

Mr Papandreou said Greece had asked the International Monetary Fund for help on technical issues.

Belfast Telegraph