BEIJING (AFP) – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls sought to reassure Chinese concerns about the eurozone on Friday, insisting that Greece will stay part of the single currency.
“Greece will remain, must remain, in the eurozone, the new Greek prime minister has said, it cannot be any other way,” Valls said, referring to the radical left-wing politician Alexis Tsipras.
There was “no need to worry” about a possible Greek exit from the single currency, Valls told Chinese journalists on the second day of a three-day trip to the Asian powerhouse.
“We must help Greece out of the crisis she faces. But at the same time Greece must respect its commitments, that is how the European Union works,” he continued.
Sources in Valls’ entourage said that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang asked him whether Greece would leave the euro when the two met on Thursday.
The new Greek government is demanding a renegotiation of the 240-billion-euro ($269 billion) international bailout it was granted in 2010 to avoid a financial meltdown.
It has already begun to roll back years of austerity measures demanded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund in return for the money, and China itself has said it was “highly concerned” about a review of the privatisation of the port of Piraeus, where Chinese firm COSCO was one of the bidders.
Athens is hoping to cut the debt in half, but the European Union and Germany have warned that there is little support for such a move.
Valls tried to dispel concerns about the eurozone, citing a “strong partnership” between its two largest economies, France and Germany, and the expected impact of the ECB’s quantitative easing measures.
“I know there are some concerns that relate to the situation of the eurozone or Europe, which remains a major trading partner,” he said.
“Discussions are constantly taking place between China and the European Union, so come and invest in Europe, and in France in particular,” he told Chinese businessmen.