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Merkel: Greece will succeed in its commitments

German leader says Greeks can only have a better future through 'restructuring and fiscal consolidation'

While she said she recognises the sacrifices by the Greek people, Angela Merkel insists that, in order to have a better future, they need economic restructuring and fiscal consolidation

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a news conference after talks at the chancellery in Berlin, 22 November 2013 (Photo: Reuters) Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a news conference after talks at the chancellery in Berlin, 22 November 2013 (Photo: Reuters) There is no financing hole in the current aid programme for Greece and any decision on further debt relief could only be taken once final data on the budget surplus is available next year, Antonis Samaras has said after a working lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday.

"Greece will not need a new memorandum or new amounts to cover the fiscal gap of 2014," Samaras said. "We will keep to the framework of the agreements already in effect."

Responding to questions, the premier said that he did not want to give details about the government's talks with the troika, as they are "still in progress".

But said he was "optimistic we will soon have results and, I believe, the troika's statements confirm this assessment". He reiterated that he was not in Berlin to negotiate with the troika.

Merkel added that she recognised the sacrifices by the Greek people but said that, in order to have a better future, they needed economic restructuring and fiscal consolidation.

The German leader expressed her optimism that Greece would succeed in its commitments. Given that it was taking over the rotating EU presidency in January and must not be burdened with negotiations once it assumes the six-month role.

Merkel also acknowledged the government's efforts to implement the troika-mandated austerity programme and exit from the crisis.

"Greece has made great progress and this is apparent in the primary surplus," she said. "However, the reforms are broader and Germany offers its support within the EU framework as well as at a bilateral level, as with the task force on local administration issues. An investment bank is being set up. We also discussed where Greece's negotiations with the troika are, and the prime minister reassured us that Greece will meet its commitments," Merkel noted.

Samaras said that Greece had met its fiscal targets and will continue to carry through the necessary structural changes: "In terms of the fiscal adjustment programme, we have met our targets. I would like to remind you that the primary surplus has been set as a target for 2014."

Samaras added that in terms of structural change, Greece has "covered a lot of distance, and we will do even better", noting that "there will be significant benefits from the improvement in competitiveness".

Speaking about reforms, Samaras said they were becoming visible, as "the trade balance has evened out after decades. Everything is being carried out under tremendous sacrifices by the Greek people, while more needs to be done. But we are entering a revival phase after seven years - we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and this will strengthen the decisiveness of the Greek people."

He said he had raised with Merkel the Greek development fund, to which Germany's KfW public investment bank has agreed to contribute. They also discussed reforms in the education and health sectors, and future perspectives related to Greece's EU presidency.

Thanking Merkel and other EU partners for their support, Samaras added that "Greece's voyage will be fulfilled and it will be a European success as well".

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Economy
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Antonis Samaras
Angela Merkel