Saturday

16th Dec 2017

Merkel to Greece: 'I come here as a friend'

  • Riot police fired tear gas against anti-Merkel protesters (Photo: S.J.Borne)

German leader Angela Merkel on Tuesday (9 October) showed sympathy for Greek "pain," as tens of thousands filled the streets, clashed with police and chanted angry slogans.

"I have come here today conscious of the very difficult times, of the pain many people are going through," Merkel told a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Her visit, the first in five years, came amid widespread street protests and an almost unprecedented security effort.

Many Greek people blame Germany for the austerity and recession gripping the country. The demonstrations were largely non-violent, with police estimating that 40,000 took to the streets during the Merkel visit.

But some clashes did occur, with riot police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds and arresting a few dozens of people.

One protester was captured by press photographers wearing a Nazi uniform and imitating Hitler, while others burned Nazi flags.

Meanwhile, Greek commentators noticed a badly-inspired wardrobe choice on Merkel's side, as she wore the same olive-coloured jacket she had on when Germany beat Greece in the European football championship in June.

During the press conference, Merkel tried to mend ties with the alienated Greeks: "I did not come here as a teacher to give grades, I am here as a partner, as a friend."

She gave assurances that she wants Greece to stay in the eurozone and that "we are all in this together, as partners."

A lot of reforms were under way and had accelerated in recent months, Merkel noted.

But she could not promise the next tranche of bailout money - needed for Greece to avoid bankruptcy, and already delayed for over three months - was going to come anytime soon.

Merkel clearly distinguished between her "bilateral" visit and the ongoing examination by the troika of international lenders whose report has also been postponed several times as the Greek government struggles to cobble together enough cuts before more money can be disbursed.

For Samaras' part, he claimed that "with Ms Merkel's visit, we are breaking a Greek isolation from the international scene" and pledged to do all the necessary reforms to stay in the eurozone.

"Everyone knows Germany's economic and political power in Europe. The strengthening of our relationship can only be beneficial for our country," he added.

He said painful reforms were "needed to make Greece more competitive and to change the image of our country."

At the same time, speaking alongside anti-Merkel protesters in Syntagma square, left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras told Skai TV that her visit was just a show of support for the "Merkelites" in the Greek government and their "barbaric austerity measures."

He again criticised the fact that most of the €130 bailout money goes to repay Greece's debt and to prop up its banks, but not into the real economy, which is shrinking rapidly.

Eurozone gives Greece 10-day ultimatum

Eurozone ministers have given Greece 10 days to implement budget cuts in return for a bailout cash, as Germany Merkel braves protesters on a visit to Athens.

Agenda

Merkel to visit Greece this WEEK

German Chancellor Merkel will Greek PM Samaras in her first visit to the debt-ridden country since the crisis began.

Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland

Public pressure about low corporate taxes appear to have pressured Facebook to launch plans to stop routing international ad sales through its Dublin-based headquarters in Ireland.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states