German Merkel arrives in Greece for her last official trip | News | DW


German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Athens on Thursday evening, where she was to have a one-to-one dinner with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. On Friday, she will meet Mitsotakis and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou to discuss energy policy, the coronavirus pandemic, immigration and Greece’s strained relations with neighboring Turkey over territorial disputes and drilling rights in the Mediterranean. eastern.

Merkel and Mitsotakis will hold a press conference after Friday’s meetings.

The trip, Merkel’s fourth, will also be her last official visit. “The Chancellor is grateful to have received this invitation (from Mitsotakis). She looks forward to her visit to Athens and the talks there,” her spokeswoman Steffen Seibert said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday at Berlin.

Merkel, a hated assistant during the Greek debt crisis

Merkel has not always been welcomed in Greece with open arms. Many still see her as the woman who imposed austerity on the country during Greece’s 2009 financial crisis, which turned into a decade of euro crisis.

At the time, Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble were hated personalities. Germany was the biggest lender and Merkel and Schäuble, along with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded huge budget cuts and drastic tax hikes in return for their support for three different international bailouts of over € 300 billion ($ 350 billion).

After being greeted by mass protests by Greeks holding up posters showing her in a Hitler mustache in 2012, Athens banned protests during her visits in 2014 and 2019.

Protesters clash with police during Angela Merkel's visit to Athens 2019

Although protests were banned, Greeks vilified Merkel so much that they clashed with police to protest her 2019 visit

Merkel ‘hardest moment’ of 16 years in power

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is one of many Greek officials who say the country has changed. And he spoke positively of the Chancellor, noting that she has a “special relationship” with Greece.

Last week in Brussels, the conservative politician said: “I think she will be the first to admit – she has already done so – that she has asked a lot of the Greeks on several occasions and that austerity has gone to the forefront. – beyond what Greek society could bear. But at the same time, it was she who went against the recommendations of her ministers to keep Greece in the euro zone. ”

In September, Merkel told Greek journalists that the bailout negotiations had been “the most difficult moment” of her 16 years in office. Indeed, the crisis wiped out a quarter of the Greek economy and triggered massive unemployment.

As Greece recovered, attitudes towards Merkel also softened. When greeted in 2019 by then-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – a fierce critic during years of crisis – she seemed relieved, saying “the hardships are now behind us”.

js / aw (AFP, AP, dpa)

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