Hollande, Monti: 'Everything' to save euro

Aug. 1, 2012 at 3:00 AM
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PARIS, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- France's president and Italy's prime minister joined a growing chorus of European leaders and policymakers pledging to do "everything" to save the euro.

"We are reminded, once again, of our determination to do everything so that the European Council decisions of late June are implemented [and] that the euro area is defended, preserved, strengthened," Francois Hollande said in a news conference with Mario Monti after a working lunch at France's Elysee Palace.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in phone calls with Hollande and Monti to do "everything possible" to save the euro, the leaders said Tuesday.

"There has been substantial progress in recent weeks," Hollande said.

He cited a June 29 decision by leaders of the 17-nation eurozone, at a European Council meeting of European Union state and government heads, to use EU bailout funds to recapitalize struggling banks directly, without adding to countries' sovereign debt. He pointed to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's "strong words" last week when he pledged to do "whatever it takes to preserve the euro."

Hollande and Monti called for rapid implementation of the June agreement, noting some countries, notably Italy and Spain, face excessively high borrowing costs despite imposing "difficult but necessary economic reforms."

Monti said he agreed "word for word" with Hollande's comments about improved prospects for the euro crisis, but stressed "we cannot afford even one moment of carelessness."

Before flying to Paris, Monti told Italian state broadcast station RAI Radio 1: "Some light is appearing at the end of the tunnel. We and the rest of Europe are approaching the end of the tunnel."

Greek Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said Tuesday his ailing country was "on the brink" and would not be able to meet its commitments without another bailout installment from Europe this month.

He told state-owned New Hellenic Television, or NET, Athens expected to have implemented necessary "structural changes" and other budgetary-savings measures by September.

The so-called troika of lenders -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- has extended to Greece two loan deals, worth about $295 billion at the current exchange rate, over the past two years, but has expressed frustration at Athens' slow implementation of overhauls Greek authorities promised to make in return for the aid.

Troika officials, who arrived in Athens last week, said Tuesday they'd changed plans to leave that day and would stay on until austerity measures are finalized.

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