German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that “improvements” were needed to the substance of a proposal submitted by Greece for an extension to its loan agreement a few hours before a crucial meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.
In a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande following talks in Paris, Merkel acknowledged that “the Greek people have made major sacrifices,” referring to years of austerity measures demanded by international creditors, adding that the policy of Germany and other eurozone states was to strive to keep Greece in the euro.
Hollande struck a similar tone, insisting that Greece belonged in the eurozone despite renewed speculation of a possible Greek exit from the currency bloc.
There were signs that Berlin was softening slightly on Friday after an initial rejection of Greece’s request for a loan agreement extension on Thursday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke to both Merkel and Hollande on Thursday night.