Merkel Backs Greek Reforms As Anti-Austerity Protests Deepen
German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced out her support for her counterpart, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, during her first visit to Athens since the crisis broke out three years ago. Still, that couldn`t stop thousand of Greeks to take the stream into Syntagma square despite ban on protests and security lock down!
In her six-hour visit to Greece, Merkel spoke on Tuesday in a joint statement with Samaras at the Maximos mansion in Athens, where she backed Samaras` recent efforts to secure the next tranche of the 130 billion euros in aid from international creditors.
Merkel thinks the pace of government reforms has picked up considerably, one year after she raised the odds of Greece exiting the euro and four months after Samaras was championed against parties that braced for breaking German-led budget cuts. "I want Greece to remain in the euro" but "a lot has to be done, much remains to be done," she added.
Merkel`s visit was seen highly symbolic, a show of solidarity for Greece`s continued membership of the euro zone, however thousand of Greeks still blame Germany for years of painful austerity measures and recession. Seven thousand police officers, rooftop snipers and commandos were in place to provide protection for Merkel.
The German leader was frank about the Greek suffering as results of the financial crisis and austerity measures, which she believes was necessary to ensure a better future for Greeks. "Much has been achieved but much needs to be done and Germany and Greece will continue to co-operate very closely together in this respect." She said.
Samaras, on the other hand, said Merkel`s visit to Greece yesterday "proves that we are breaking an international isolation". He said their meeting was "dominated by frankness, mutual understanding, solidarity, a spirit of collaboration and a feeling that we can overcome the Greek problem and obviously, the European problems alike".