President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that he wanted Greek voters to "choose Europe" in upcoming polls and branded remarks by the IMF chief that Greeks dodged taxes as disrespectful.

"/> President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that he wanted Greek voters to "choose Europe" in upcoming polls and branded remarks by the IMF chief that Greeks dodged taxes as disrespectful.

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ANGELA MERKEL

Hollande criticises IMF chief’s attacks on Greece

President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that he wanted Greek voters to "choose Europe" in upcoming polls and branded remarks by the IMF chief that Greeks dodged taxes as disrespectful.

Hollande criticises IMF chief's attacks on Greece
LCP Assemblee Nationale

“The Greeks must face their responsibilities — be aware that what you decide on June 17 will have consequences, both for you and for us,” Hollande said during a televised interview.

Greece is holding a parliamentary election on June 17 for the second time in six weeks, with voters facing a choice of parties that oppose an international austerity plan for the debt-wracked nation, or those that support it.

The prospect of victory by anti-austerity parties has sparked fears that Greece would be forced to leave the euro, as European leaders have warned that Athens would not get any more rescue funds if it failed to implement promised reforms.

In an uncompromising interview published by The Guardian newspaper on Friday, the head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde said she had little sympathy for the Greeks, preferring to concern herself with the plight of starving children in Africa.

“I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time,” she said. “All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”

She said the Greeks could help themselves “by all paying their tax,” remarks that incensed many Greeks and led to 10,000 messages, many obscene, being posted on Lagarde’s Facebook page.

Hollande said he disapproved of the tone of her remarks.

“It’s true that there are very rich Greeks who evade taxes and that must not be accepted,” Hollande said. “But I don’t think that this is the best way to address the Greeks — ‘you know, you have to look at your situation compared to Africans whose lives are harder than yours’.”

“That is called respect,” Hollande said.

Hollande’s approach to the crisis has been that growth measures must accompany austerity and his election as head of the eurozone’s second largest economy was widely greeted in Greece.

The new French president’s stance on growth has put him at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who as head of Europe’s paymaster has championed austerity.

In his interview Hollande said he wanted “to find a good equilibrium between France and Germany that is at the same time respectful of our partners and European institutions.”

“We have already fixed a certain number of goals with Mrs. Merkel. She accepts the principle of growth, I accept the principle of serious fiscal discipline.

“She is against eurobonds,” which Hollande also supports. “She doesn’t say ‘never.’ She says ‘not now.’ That can open the way to a certain number of compromises.”

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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday

French President Emmanuel Macron will have dinner with Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday - the first time this year the German chancellor has received a foreign leader in person, her spokeswoman said.

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pool Getty Images/AP | Leon Neal

The working dinner at the chancellery will focus on “European policy issues”, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said on Monday.

Talks will focus on the “coordination between Germany and France” ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on June 24-25, she said.

The dinner meeting comes after G7 leaders gathered in England at the weekend for their first in-person summit in almost two years.

VIDEO: Watch Merkel’s funniest momentsĀ 

World leaders were also meeting in Brussels on Monday for the first NATO summit with US President Joe Biden.

Subjects on the agenda included how to deal with China’s rise and confronting an emboldened Russia, ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

At the EU summit, leaders are due to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery, migration and external relations, including with Turkey and Russia.

At an online Franco-German council of ministers in May, Macron paid tribute to the German chancellor, who is bowing out of politics this year after 16 years in power.

“This last council allows me to say how much the Franco-German relationship owes to your commitment, your willingness to take action, sometimes your patience with us, and your ability to listen,” Macron said.

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