Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Merkel’s Athens trip provides chance to ease tensions

AFP, ATHENS

On Saturday, popular German daily Bild ran a photograph of a poster depicting Merkel in a Nazi uniform asking: “Is this how Angela Merkel will be greeted in Athens?”

Bild has long railed against “the Greek failure.” In late 2010, it called on Greece to “sell your islands ... together with the Acropolis.”

That same year, Focus ran a cover picture of Venus de Milo pointing the middle finger at Europe, accompanied by a headline calling Greeks the “swindlers” of the euro family.

More recently tensions appear to have calmed down, as talk of a possible Greek exit from the eurozone, a hot topic during the summer, has subsided.

In addition, the conservative Greek prime minister recently carried out a European tour in an effort to restore the country’s credibility.

The tour included meetings with Merkel in Berlin, French President Francois Hollande in Paris, as well as ECB President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday the message she would take to Athens would be that “we want to help Greece stabilize itself within the eurozone.”

“We are doing that by massively contributing to the two aid packages that are supposed to help Greece come out of the crisis,” he said, stressing that aid was possible only if Greece stuck to the austerity cuts demanded by international creditors.

Nevertheless, he said Berlin saw greater efforts being made under Samaras.

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