Greece on track to weather debt crisis: Merkel

Greece has a chance to weather its crisis after the eurozone and private creditors agreed to restructure its debt, but has "a long way to go," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a Czech daily Saturday.

"Greece has a chance now ... it still has a long way to go, but it has already walked a decent stretch of it," Merkel told the broadsheet Lidove Noviny daily ahead of her visit to Prague on April 3.

"The Greek parliament has approved harsh measures, such as slashing the minimum wage, so that it could compete with neighbouring countries for instance in tourism," she said.

"These are extremely tough political decisions which I appreciate a lot. They will bear fruit with time," added Merkel.

She said she wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone as its departure "would have serious effects" including the domino effect that could cause doubts in other countries.

Merkel said earlier she would not use the visit to Prague to discuss the Czech Republic's decision to stay out of the EU's fiscal discipline pact as the only member of the 27-member bloc bar Britain.

Prague's signature on the so-called fiscal compact is being opposed by the strongest party in the Czech government, the Civic Democrats of Prime Minister Petr Necas, whom Merkel will meet next Tuesday.

Necas has attacked the pact for failing to clearly set a 60-percent ceiling for government debt and to ensure participation at eurozone meetings for EU countries still using their own currency.

In the interview, Merkel said the Czech Republic was "not isolated" because of its decision not to join the deal tightening fiscal rules for those who signed.

"Just like all the other countries, the Czech Republic carries out a number of reforms. I definitely don't think your country wants to be sidelined," she added.


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