–Adds Merkel’s Comment To Story Sent At 12:25 GMT

BERLIN (MNI) – The German government on Monday welcomed the Greek
parliamentary approval of additional austerity measures but again
demanded that all important Greek political leaders affirm their support
for the measures.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Greek
political leaders must declare in a written statement that they will
adhere to the austerity and reform measures, including after the next
elections expected for this spring.

“Otherwise the [second] big aid package for Greece won’t come
about,” Seibert stressed.

Still, the spokesman reaffirmed that the German government will do
what it can to prevent a Greek default which would have uncontrollable
consequences for the whole of Europe.

German Finance Ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said Eurozone
finance ministers would make their final decision on the second Greek
aid package at the start of March.

Speaking at a separate press conference today, Chancellor Angela
Merkel made clear that the protests by Greek citizens against the reform
and austerity program would not lead to anything. “There cannot and will
not be a change of the program,” she stressed.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a newspaper interview
published Sunday that it was up to Greece to decide whether it wanted
to stay in the Eurozone.

“That is all in the hands of the Greeks themselves,” Schaeuble told
German weekly Welt am Sonntag. “But even in the event [of an exit from
the Eurozone], which almost no one assumes [will happen], they will
still remain part of Europe.”

Schaeuble once again urged Greece to implement the reform steps set
out it the bailout program. “Greece needs to do its own homework to
become competitive — whether that happens in conjunction with a new
rescue program or by another route that we actually don’t want to take,”
he said.

Key lawmakers in Merkel’s CDU/CSU-FDP government coalition said
Friday that the German parliament would most likely approve the second
rescue package for Greece if the country met the obligations set by
official lenders.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the parliamentary leader of the SPD, the
largest opposition party, on Friday also signaled support for the aid
measures for Greece.

The German parliament is scheduled to vote on the aid measures on
February 27. The late date is due to the fact that lawmakers want to see
Greece implement some of the required reforms before voting on the aid
package, several parliamentarians said.

–Berlin bureau: +49-30-22 62 05 80; email: twidder@marketnews.com

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