Merkel expresses respect for departing Papandreou

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday expressed her «respect» during a phone call with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for his decision to step down, her spokesman said.

“The chancellor, for her part, expressed her respect for the decision of the prime minister and, from her side, expressed thanks for the good cooperation,» Steffen Seibert told reporters at a regular press briefing.

“The chancellor has much respect for George Papandreou’s achievements,» he said.

“With courage and the ability to see measures through, he has put his country on the right path, and he had to overcome much resistance,» he added.

Papandreou had understood that Greece needed far-reaching structural reforms and austerity measures which was «an arduous path with hardships for millions of Greeks», Seibert said.

“But it is also an unavoidable path and to have taken this path is thanks to George Papandreou,» he said.

Papandreou and the head of Greece’s main opposition party, conservative Antonis Samaras, are holding negotiations on naming a new interim leader tasked with fulfilling the requirements of a massive EU bailout deal.