Samaras Meets Merkel in BerlinIn Berlin for the second time since he took office last June, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reported to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his country’s progress in administering reforms and imposing the austerity measures international lenders demanded in return for continued aid.
Samaras said he was determined to win back credibility in Europe, which has largely viewed Greece with disdain since former Premier George Papandreou asked for a first round of rescue loans in 2010, only to be driven out of office by relentless protests against pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.
Merkel backs financial assistance for Greece, but only on condition of continued austerity, and she said as much when she came to Athens in October, 2012 to show support for Samaras during more demonstrations. Samaras used the opportunity to reiterate his belief that Greece has made great strides and earned an incoming barrage of 52.5 billion euros in more rescue loans from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
“I would like to make clear up front that our country is undertaking great efforts that are linked with great sacrifices to get things back on track,” Samaras said during a brief appearance alongside Merkel before they met at the chancellery. “We are trying to win back credibility, on the part of the people of Europe and on the part of the markets.”
Merkel said she would “of course be interested in what progress the implementation of the Greek reform program is making,” but didn’t offer any assessment. In remarks to reporters earlier on Jan. 8 before he attended a closed-doors conference organized by German newspaper Die Welt, Samaras said that he considers “the glass half full” and was in Berlin with a message of optimism. “We are delivering and Europe is helping,” he said.
Merkel said she also would discuss with Samaras the economic situation in Germany, where growth has slowed over the past year, “because we also must do everything to guarantee economic growth and, with that, job security.”