20th Feb 2019


Tsipras to meet Merkel in Berlin this WEEK

  • Merkel will receive Tsipras in Berlin (Photo: Bundesregierung)

After several weeks of increasing tension between Germany and Greece, the two countries’ leaders are meeting in Berlin on Monday (23 March).

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras told Greek daily Kathimerini that the talks “will not be pressurised by negotiations” on the Greek bailout, so that “we can both discuss the important issues that are burdening Europe, as well as improving bilateral relations between the two countries”.

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German chancellor Angela Merkel also said Monday's visit is “a bilateral visit, just as prime minister Tsipras has made it to other European capitals”.

She spoke at a press conference in Brussels last Friday, after an EU summit in which Greece was urged to put forward a “full list” of reforms in the next few days in order to keep getting aid money.

Merkel said she didn’t expect Tsipras to bring the list of reforms to Berlin, however.

“This is not the time and place for anyone to receive a list of reforms. … These have to be given to the institutions, not to Germany”, Merkel said, referring to Greece's international creditors - the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and European Commission.

However, in Germany, one prominent member of Merkel's coalition partner said in an interview over the weekend that his patience is running out.

“I expect that [Tsipras] will submit this list at his meeting with chancellor Merkel on Monday”, Thomas Opperman, the leader of the centre-left social-democrat party, told Der Spiegel.

“I finally want to know if Greece is really preparing for real reforms or not.”

Monday's meeting will begin at 5pm local time.

Also this week, EU diplomats will continue their nuclear negotiations with Iran in the Swiss city of Lausanne

US secretary of state John Kerry has said “substantial progress” was made in the last round of talks, as the deadline - 31 March - for a final agreement approaches.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has also expressed cautious optimism, saying “there is nothing that cannot be resolved … shared points of view emerged in some of the areas where there had been a difference of opinion”.

EU ministers will this week meet in Riga, the capital of the EU's current 6-month president, Latvia.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, trade ministers will look at progress in EU-US free trade talks, including the controversial subject of “ISDS” - an arbitration mechanism that allows private firms to force governments to change legislation.

On Thursday and Friday, competetiveness ministers will discuss the EU digital economy, including the role of the EU's single market.

The commission's digital vice-president, Andrus Ansip, will on Wednesday in Brussels give a presentation to his fellow commissioners, and discuss the obstacles the EU's digital market and its consumers are facing. He is expected to present a digital strategy for the EU in May.

Also on Wednesday in Brussels, the European Parliament will meet for a one-day plenary session.

MEPs will discuss financial assistance to Ukraine, the results of last week's summit of EU government leaders, the future of the EU's neighbourhood policy, and tax transparency.

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Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

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Brexit looks to dominate news this week as British MPs gear up for a vote on how to break the internal deadlocks over the proposed deal with the European Union.

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