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World

Germany, France Keep Door Open To Greek Requests For Economic Help

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And in Paris, French and German leaders met today to discuss the Greek crisis. They said they're still open to helping Greece solve its debt problem. But a growing number of Germans say there's only one solution they're interested in, and that's getting Greece to give up the euro. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Berlin.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: While French President Francois Hollande spoke of European solidarity, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear no new money is heading to Athens.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANGELA MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: She says conditions needed to start talks for a bailout just aren't there at the moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: The chancellor adds to keep this a single currency, we need joint responsibility, not just joint solidarity. That news came as the European Central Bank announced it would not expand its emergency assistance either. The chancellor's ironclad stance is in part because she is under intense pressure at home. There are growing demands from her conservative allies and the German public that Greece be booted out of the eurozone. Many here are irked by the Greek government's snubbing of its creditors - in particular, Germany, whose leaders some Greeks have likened to Nazis. Polls last month showed nearly 3 in 5 Germans in favor of Greece leaving the eurozone. Those feelings only increased after Sunday's resounding no vote in the Greek referendum. Walter Ingenrieth, a 63-year-old from Monchengladbach, who was touring Berlin this afternoon, says his resentment towards Athens has been building over several months.

WALTER INGENRIETH: (Speaking German).

NELSON: He says, "it's time for Greece to give up the euro because I don't see it making a serious effort to share in a joint currency with Germany or other European countries with strong economies." He and many other Germans say they can't understand why five years since its bailout began, Greece has made little progress in ending corruption and tax evasion and failed at delivering enough reforms. Even Apostolos Tsalastras, the treasurer of Oberhausen, which was the most indebted city in Germany some years back, expressed impatience with the Athens government.

APOSTOLOS TSALASTRAS: (Speaking German).

NELSON: The son of Greek immigrants says it's imperative for the Greek government not only to focus on how serious the situation is, but to take responsibility and lead the country out of crisis. That's not going to happen with its constant refusal to engage its eurozone partners, Tsalastras adds. Nevertheless, he hopes Greece will stay in the eurozone.

TSALASTRAS: (Speaking German).

NELSON: Tsalastras, like many financial experts here, says if Greece were to leave, it would set a dangerous precedent for other member countries facing debt issues. That would result not only in financial turmoil within the eurozone, but could mean an end of the currency. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.