News24

Merkel to welcome Hollande 'with open arms'

2012-05-07 15:00

Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she would welcome French president-elect Francois Hollande "with open arms" when he visits Berlin after his inauguration next week.

She said they agreed during a phone call on Sunday to work "well and intensively" together, adding: "Franco-German co-operation is essential for Europe and we all want Europe to succeed."

Merkel said Hollande would visit the German capital shortly after his inauguration as president, expected to take place on 15 May, without giving a date for the much-awaited meeting.

The German chancellor irked Hollande by openly campaigning for his rival Nicolas Sarkozy, who comes from the same conservative political family as Merkel.

During the campaign, Hollande won few friends in Berlin by criticising Merkel's insistence on austerity as the way out of the eurozone debt crisis, seeking to shift the focus to growth.

But Merkel told reporters that both budgetary consolidation as well as growth was necessary in Europe and reiterated that the EU's fiscal pact - aimed at reducing ballooning deficits - was not up for discussion.

"I believe the fiscal pact is correct and secondly I think that we can't simply re-open for discussion everything we have already agreed after an election in a small or big country," she said.

All this would be discussed with Hollande in a "friendly fashion" when he visits Berlin, Merkel said, adding: "For me, it's about the future of Europe."