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Greece must stay in eurozone, Hollande declares after Samaras Paris visit

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

“Greece must stay in the eurozone,” French President François Hollande declared after meeting Greek PM Antonis Samaras in Paris on Saturday. But he added that its leaders must show they are ready to go the “whole way” with the tough austerity package that was a condition for European loans.

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"Greece is in the eurozone and Greece must stay in the eurozone," Hollande said at a joint press conference with Samaras at the Elysee palace. "But it still has to demonstrate the credibility of its programme and the willingness of its leaders to go the whole way, while doing it in a way that is bearable for the population."

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Samaras, who visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel before coming to Paris, insisted that he was confident that Greece will remain in the eurozone.

"I also think that we can achieve our goals and our commitments, reduce deficits, our debt, complete the structural change we have begun," he said.

Samaras is reported to want an extra two years to put through the next stage of the package – 11.5 billion euros-worth of cuts that are currently supposed to be made in 2013-2014.

Despite frequent German declarations that the terms of the package cannot be changed, Merkel stressed that she wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone after meeting Samaras.

In Paris Hollande, who held a pre-visit caucus with Merkel on Thursday, backed her declaration that the European Union will wait for a report by experts from the “Troika” – the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central bank – before deciding to give Greece additional help.

But he said that the decision should be made “the sooner the better” after the report’s publication.

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