Europe Looks To Germany To Support Greece

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are briefing politicians in Berlin on the importance of supporting Greece through its debt problems. Greece has asked the IMF and its European partners for assistance. Such a measure would need parliamentary approval in Germany, and polls show a large majority of Germans oppose providing Greece with financial aid.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The trouble in Greece - that could almost be the title of a movie I'd go to see. Germany has Europe's biggest economy, and it would likely be the biggest contributor to a bailout of Greece. The Germans say they want Greece to pass further painful austerity measures before Germany will help.

Today, the heads of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are briefing German politicians who are reluctant.

Thomas Marzahl reports from Berlin.

THOMAS MARZAHL: The talks have taken on a new urgency after a leading ratings agency downgraded Greece's debt on Tuesday to junk status. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is faced with reluctance by members of her governing coalition to provide aid while coming under fire from her EU partners.

France and Italy, in particular, are accusing Berlin of dragging its heals on contributing to an assistance package which has to be approved by parliament. Calls are also mounting for the banks that profited from investments in Greece in boom times to share in the bailout.

Volker Kauder is a leading conservative politician.

Mr. VOLKER KAUDER (Christian Democratic Union, Germany): (Foreign language spoken)

MARZAHL: We must take a look at those who have recently speculated and won, he said. They also have to contribute to saving the euro and Greece.

Time is running out. Greece needs $11 billion in bailout money by May 19th. German politicians from all parties have received hundreds of phone calls and emails from angry voters who oppose aid to Athens.

Today's front page of the country's leading tabloid reads: We fear for our money.

For NPR News, I'm Thomas Marzahl in Berlin.

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