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Merkel slams cliches of 'work-shy Greeks, tight Germans'

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(BERLIN) - Sweeping stereotypes about work-shy Greeks and stingy Germans are wrong, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday, praising Europe's "diversity" to pupils at a Berlin high school.

Merkel noted she has tried to fight against cliches among Europeans.

"Namely, one suddenly saying 'Oh, the Bulgarians, the Greeks, we know what they're like,'" she said. "We can't ever say that."

She was answering questions from teenagers at a school where many pupils have immigrant, especially Turkish, backgrounds.

The visit was part of European Union Day, initiated by Merkel nine years ago to raise awareness among youngsters.

"The Germans are all so different, the Turks are all so different," she added.

"If I start now to say, 'The Greeks are not so hardworking, and the Germans, they of course are hardworking, on the other hand they are tightfisted'... neither are correct," she said.

"You find generous people, you find petty-minded people," she said, adding that "you can really get to know diversity in Europe".

At the height of the eurozone crisis in May 2011, Merkel, who won popularity at home for her perceived strong guardianship of German interests, faced criticism for comments she made about pensions and holiday entitlements in several southern European countries.

Back then she said that "we can't have a common currency with some getting a lot of holidays and some very little," the national DPA news agency quoted her as saying at a meeting of her conservatives in the western town of Meschede.

Berlin's insistence on tough reforms in return for aid to struggling eurozone peers in turn sparked claims of Germans being penny-pinching.

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