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Worst of the euro crisis 'behind us', says German FM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, right, talk during a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he believes the embattled eurozone is already past the peak of its three-year-long debt crisis, citing positive developments in Greece and France.

In an interview with mass-circulation Bild to appear in Friday's edition, Schaeuble said: "I think the worst is behind us."

"The government in Athens knows that it must not overburden other eurozone member states. Therefore it is pressing ahead with reforms," he said in the pre-released interview.

He also expressed optimism about the pace of reform in fellow eurozone powerhouse France, saying Paris "was well aware that every country must constantly carry out reforms in order to stay competitive."

Schaeuble, 70, appeared more optimistic on what lies ahead for the eurozone than Chancellor Angela Merkel who has steadfastly refused to sound the all-clear.

Speaking after the EU picked up its Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, Merkel said she could not "completely" declare the crisis over, describing herself as a "prudent optimist."

In contrast, French President Francois Hollande has repeatedly said the eurozone crisis, which has at times threatened the very existence of the 17-country currency union, was past.

Turning to the German economy, the bloc's largest, Schaeuble said he was counting on "decent" growth next year, driven by trade with the United States and Asia.

"The situation is better than expected because of stronger trade with the US and Asia, among other things. The German economy will therefore grow at a decent rate in 2013," Schaeuble said.

 

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