June 2 - Angela Merkel says Europe has a debt problem and structural issues to overcome, but the common currency itself is sound. Arnold Gay reports.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, says Europe has a debt problem to overcome, but the common currency itself is sound. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "I know that in Singapore one is closely monitoring the current developments in the Eurozone. I would like to clearly state: we have no problem with the euro as such. The euro is a stable currency. Compared to the U.S. Dollar it is strong, at times very strong, which does not necessarily increase our export strength. However, we have a debt issue in some member states. Not only a debt problem, but also a competitiveness problem which is the core problem of the debt issue." Stressing that European integration and the euro remain key issues for Germany, Merkel adds that problems in several EU member countries go beyond debt but wider structural problems which need to be addressed. The German leader did not name specific countries but Germany has been critical of Greek efforts to tackle its fiscal problems. Merkel also threw her support behind the French foreign minister Christine Largarde to head the IMF, but adds she is not opposed to changes in future (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "We know that the world is changing in such a way that in the long run, it cannot continue with an American heading the World Bank and a European heading the IMF. This is not a nature of law. That's why it's important that the best candidates get the top jobs of international institutions. And for that reason today, one's ability to choose is alot more free than it used to be." Turning to the region, Merkel voiced concerns about Myanmar's potential leadership role of the trading bloc ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), given the country's track record. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "With this backdrop, I am concerned about Myanmar's interest in the presidency of ASEAN, as long as the new civil government has not proven that it's going down a path of democracy." The 10 member ASEAN rotates its chairmanship each year, and Myanmar is believed to be pressing to take its turn in 2014. Arnold Gay, Reuters