Desperate call to Merkel “a lie”

A “desperate telephone call” allegedly from Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking for help never happened, according to the Prime Minister’s office.

The rumour, published last week in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, was based on supposed sources who had witnessed the phone call between the two heads of government in which José Sócrates seemed “desperate” about international market interest rates and had apparently asked Merkel what his government should do.

The Prime Minister was reported as promising Merkel that he would “do anything” that she suggested except one thing: ask the European Union or International Monetary Fund to step in.

But, according to the Prime Minister’s office, which had called the newspaper to complain about the story, José Sócrates “neither called nor asked for help” from the German chancellor.

In statements made to the daily business online news service, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said that the telephone call had been “invented” and added that it was “sad that serious and reputable newspapers” like the Guardian reported “false information!” that obviously was “fed by those with a political agenda”.

According to the Guardian, Merkel left Sócrates “waiting on the phone” while she called the director of the IMF to ask his opinion.

But Dominique Strauss-Khan had apparently said he didn’t see the point since “Sócrates never took any advice he was given anyway”.