BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Italy on Tuesday to clear up quickly who will run the country, something that she said is key to restoring its credibility.Premier Silvio Berlusconi pledged earlier this week to quit but questions remain over the timing and what will happen next. President Giorgio Napolitano has assured skittish investors that Berlusconi will step down after reforms are passed — likely by Saturday.
“It is very important … that Italy wins back its credibility,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin. “That means the austerity package being implemented very quickly, as is now the plan, and above all the political leadership being clarified as quickly as possible — because I think that is very important for Italy’s credibility.”
“I have the impression that Italy is on the right track, but time is pressing,” Merkel added.
Germany has the biggest economy in the 17-nation eurozone and is central to efforts to resolve the bloc’s debt crisis, which already has forced Greece, Portugal and Ireland to seek bailouts.
Merkel brushed aside a suggestion that the eurozone needs to prepare for a situation in which Italy, its third-largest economy, has to leave the common currency.
Germany “has a single aim,” she said. “That is to stabilise the eurozone as it is now, make it more competitive, move forward budget consolidation.”
“We believe very firmly that this common eurozone will be in a position then to comprehensively win back credibility — that means, for every single country,” Merkel said.
The chancellor declined to comment on the nomination of former European Central Bank vice president Lucas Papademos as the new Greek prime minister in a power-sharing government, saying she was still awaiting official notification.
But she said that “we want Greece to get on the right track quickly, and we want above all that the very, very tough reform efforts for a better, more efficient and more consolidated Greece stand on the broadest possible political shoulders, because of course that makes the acceptance easier.”
“So I wholeheartedly wish success to everyone who takes on the tasks in Greece, and Germany will do everything to work well together,” Merkel said.
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