German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Athens, Thursday on the start of an official 2-day trip to Greece. However, this visit is taking place in a completely different political climate compared to 5 years ago when thousands of Greeks were protesting in the streets against austerity measures imposed at the demand of Germany and Brussels and leftist SYRIZA’s “revolutionary” rhetoric of fighting for a “democratic Europe”.
In an interview to Greek newspaper “Kathimerini” Merkel said, “Greece can continue count on Germany’s friendship”.
Ms Merkel will not only focus on the economy, as she did on her last trip but also address the Prespes Agreement between Greece and FYROM on the name dispute, as she is expected to reiterate Germany’s support of the deal and urge Greek parties back it.
The deal has led the Greek coalition government on the brink of collapse after junior partner ANEL leader Panos Kammenos made it clear he would not back the Prespes Agreement once it came in parliament for ratification.
Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, trailing badly in opinion polls ahead of a parliamentary election this year, has promised to reverse some unpopular reforms following the expiry last August of the third international bailout since 2010.
On Friday Merkel will meet Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the conservative New Democracy party, which is leading in opinion polls and is also opposed to the deal with Macedonia.
The issue of World War Two reparations for Greek victims of the brutal Nazi occupation and the repayment of a loan Greece was forced to make to Germany at that time may also be raised during Merkel’s two-day visit, diplomats said.