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Merkel thanks Schaeuble for role in Greek negotiations

merkel-thanks-schaeuble-for-role-in-greek-negotiations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave on Monday her “wholehearted thanks” to Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for his role in the Greek crisis.

Speaking at the annual conference of her Christian Democrats (CDU) party, Merkel singled out her 73-year-old minister for praise over his role during the last few months.

“Until the end of June, beginning of July we had the negotiations with the Greek government,” she told party members.

“It was a crucial test for us and the eurozone as a whole. In the end our finance minister played a decisive role as he was continuously pressing for there to a programme that would be based on the criteria that were, and continue to be, important for us: No aid without conditionality. Responsibility and solidarity go together and it must remain this way.

“Wholehearted thanks to Wolfgang Schaeuble.”

Merkel promised at a congress of her conservative party on Monday to reduce substantially the number of migrants entering Germany.

She told her center-right CDU that the decision in August to welcome the refugees fleeing war and deprivation in the Middle East was a "humanitarian imperative", but she also vowed to stem the flow.

"We want to, and we will, noticeably reduce the number of refugees," she said to rapturous applause at the congress in Karlsruhe, in the southwestern state of Baden-Wurttemberg, which holds a state election next March.

Merkel defended her catchphrase of "we can do this" during the refugee crisis by saying the party must show its Christian roots, and she likened it to pledges made by former conservative chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl in troubled times.

She said Adenauer's declaration during the Cold War that "we vote for freedom" and Kohl's promise of "flourishing landscapes" after reunification had both come true, adding that Germany could similarly deliver on the "we can do this" pledge.

"Germany should be a country that is open, curious, tolerant and even exciting," Merkel said, painting an upbeat vision for the future and stressing how far the country had come since she took power a decade ago.

"Ten years ago things were not good," she said. "Europe was deeply divided over the Iraq war. In Germany we had five million unemployed. People spoke of German angst, we were the sick man of Europe."

Merkel, 61, received an eight-minute standing ovation at the end of her speech to roughly 1,000 CDU delegates in a vast conference center adorned with massive posters reading "For Germany and Europe".

[Kathimerini & Reuters]