Arab Today, arab today merkel warns allies to stick to euro crisis afghan deals
Last Updated : GMT 21:46:51
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Merkel warns allies to stick to euro crisis, Afghan deals

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Merkel warns allies to stick to euro crisis, Afghan deals

Berlin - AFP

Chancellor Angela Merkel made a clarion call Thursday for Germany\'s partners to stick to commitments on fighting the euro crisis and on Afghanistan\'s future in the face of a French change of tack. Ahead of her first highly-anticipated summit with French president-elect Francois Hollande next week, Merkel warned against \"growth on credit\" and ignoring a key 2014 deadline for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. Both issues could put her on a collision course with Hollande, who unseated Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday\'s French presidential runoff, amid international pressure for the two to forge a strong partnership as the heads of Europe\'s two biggest economies. Merkel told lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament that deficit-fuelled growth would only catapult the eurozone back into trouble, as a heated debate rages in Europe on whether to focus more on the economy or slashing deficits. She also insisted the timetable laid out by NATO for international troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 must be respected, highlighting that for Berlin, it remained a question of \"in-together, out-together\". Hollande, who takes over from Sarkozy as president on Tuesday, has said that he wants to pull French troops out this year. \"It will be a question during the NATO summit in Chicago of confirming in a concrete way the timetable fixed in 2010 in Lisbon for a withdrawal by the end of 2014,\" Merkel said referring to a May 20-21 meet. \"The good news is that the process of handing over responsibility (to the Afghan authorities) is progressing as we had planned,\" Merkel added. Afghan forces are gradually taking over control of security in the country, with the goal of being in the lead nationwide next year and enabling most of the 130,000 foreign troops to leave by the end of 2014. Germany is the third biggest troop supplier after the United States and Britain, while France\'s 3,400 troops are the fifth largest contingent. Meanwhile, the issue of growth and budgetary discipline will focus minds when EU leaders meet in Brussels on May 23. Since Hollande\'s electoral victory, Berlin has made near daily appeals for the 25 of the EU\'s 27 member states that have signed the bloc\'s fiscal pact for tighter budgetary discipline, to stick to what they have agreed. \"Growth on credit would throw us back to the start of the crisis and therefore we will not do that,\" she said to applause by lawmakers. Hollande, who repeatedly vowed his first foreign visit would be across the Rhine to Europe\'s powerhouse, has said he wants to add measures to foster growth to the German-inspired fiscal pact. His call has coincided with a turning tide in Europe that has seen voters baulk at biting fiscal consolidation. Greece, where the crisis began, is still scrambling to form a government and ward off repeat elections, four days after weekend polls delivered a strong anti-austerity message. \"The European sovereign debt crisis will not be beaten overnight ... there is no magic bullet,\" Merkel insisted Thursday. \"So much has been talked about eurobonds or leveraging. All these measures have come and gone like magic weapons and then it is recognised that they are not sustainable solutions. \"Only one thing is and remains sustainable: accepting that overcoming the crisis will be a long and difficult process that will only be achieved if we attack the origins of the crisis, which are the horrendous debts and a lack of competitiveness in some European countries,\" she said. Germany wants to ratify the fiscal pact before parliament breaks for its summer recess -- on July 6 at the latest -- and will require a two-thirds majority in parliament for it to pass.

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