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French PM hits back at Sarkozy over criticism of Greek crisis

Miguel Medina, AFP | French Prime Minister Manuel Valls June 24, 2015

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls questioned Nicolas Sarkozy’s “patriotism” on Monday after the former president publicly criticised the government’s mediation of the Greek crisis.

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As French President François Hollande hammered out an agreement with other eurozone leaders on a new bailout package for Greece after all-night talks in Brussels, Valls was left to deal with the issue at home.

The prime minister hit back at Sarkozy after the former president on Sunday criticised what he described as a “sorry spectacle of Franco-German divisions”, adding that Hollande needed to “pull himself together and re-establish unity with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel”.

“When you are a former president of the Republic, you don’t weaken France’s position. You help your country no matter what happens, you look beyond small differences, small positions,” Valls told France Inter radio on Monday.

He reiterated the government’s stance that Greece must remain in the eurozone, warning that a so-called “Grexit” would be disastrous not only for the Greeks but for the economic bloc as a whole.

“The president is focused. It’s France’s role to find a compromise. And this has just been weakened by taking a position that changes with the days or weeks?” Valls said in reference to Sarkozy.

The prime minister also called on “everyone to rise to the level of their present or past responsibilities”.

”That’s how you help your country, that’s what makes a real patriot,” he said.

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