Statements of support and recognition of efforts made by Greece to handle the debt crisis were made by both the president of the German Socialdemocrat (SPD) party's parliamentary group and former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the president of the Greens Cem Ozdemir following their meetings here with Prime Minister George Papandreou, on Tuesday.

"I expressed to the Greek prime minister my great respect for the difficult decisions he took and must take," Steinmeyer said adding that "I understand the difficult phase in which the Greek government is in today and that courage and insistence are required to succeed."

He also reminded of the "difficult decisions" that the SPD also took in government during the past decade, pointing out that the results of that effort appeared with a five-year time lag.

One of the two presidents of the Greens party Cem Ozdemir underlined the very friendly climate in his meeting with Papandreou. He assessed that the decrease in the debt must not be expected in the short term, but time will be required.
"It is up to the entire society and not of one party alone," he said, adding that he agrees with the proposal on the enactment of eurobonds.

PM in Berlin, Helsinki ahead of crucial EU summit

Greek prime minister George Papandreou is holding a series of crucial contacts with European leaders ahead of an extraordinary summit of eurozone leaders on March 11 and an EU summit on March 25 at which the final decisions are due to be taken on the support mechanism for the eurozone.

Papandreou is due to meet on Tuesday with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, and on Wednesday with Finnish prime minister Mari Kiviniemi in Helsinki.

Also, the leaders of the European Socialist Party grouping of the European Parliament will hold a summit in Athens on March 4.