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Angela Merkel visits Greece

Recognising positive signals - consolidating good relations

Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid a two-day visit to Greece, where she met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. She also spoke with creative artists, scientists and representatives of the business community. Angela Merkel said she is particularly happy that unemployment has fallen in Greece.

Chancellor Angela Merkel at the press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras  Chancellor Angela Merkel at the press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras  Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

Before the start of her trip Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored the close relations that link Germany and Greece. The two countries enjoy a wide spectrum of bilateral relations, she said, and Greece is also a partner within the European Union and NATO.

Angela Merkel: the Greek people have difficult times behind them

On her arrival in Athens the Chancellor met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for an exchange of views. They discussed bilateral, European and international issues.

After their meeting, Angela Merkel looked back at the very hard times that followed the financial crisis. The Greek people, she said, have very, very difficult times behind them. On the one hand, Greece was given support, and Germany did its bit, but it was a time when "above all the people in Greece had to go through painful structural reforms that impacted severely on individuals, especially those who had no work".

Greece able to leave assistance programme

Angela Merkel stressed, "That is why I am delighted that we can see today that the situation has changed. Unemployment is down and Greece has left the assistance programme." That does not signal the end of reform, but it is a new situation.

Commenting on the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Chancellor declared, "I am grateful that Alexis Tsipras has taken the initiative on this matter. I believe it is a crucially important step that will benefit not only Greece and the future North Macedonia, but Europe as a whole and our shared values."

Meeting with the President and civil society

Angela Merkel began the second day of her visit by laying a wreath at the grave of the unknown soldier at Syntagma Square in the centre of Athens. After a minute’s silence the Chancellor was officially welcomed with military honours.

At the presidential palace she then had a meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos. She went on to visit the German school in Athens where German and Greek students learn side by side.

Her itinerary on Friday also included a meeting with Greek creative artists, scientists and intellectuals, as well as representatives of German and Greek businesses. Discussions focused primarily on progress achieved in Greece’s economic recovery.

To wind up her visit the Chancellor met the leader of Greece’s opposition Kyriakos Mitsotakis, before she left the Greek capital again in the afternoon for Berlin.

Jan 11, 2019