Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras were in a pleasant mood at their joint press conference at the Chancellery. Body language and movement showed there is intimacy and mutual respect between the two leaders. Of course this meant nothing for the German Chancellor when she rejected in a polite but categorical manner, possible support to a political solution Alexis Tsipras may have sought during their bilateral meeting.
At a difficult time for Europe and with the economic policy emanating from Germany in the EU seen as controversial by a many Member States, and with the upcoming German elections in September 2017, it would be difficult, if not impossible for the German Chancellor to even utter some pleasant words to the Greek PM.
During a press briefing shortly before her meeting with Alexis Tsipras, Angela Merkel noted the difficulty of discussions between the Greek and German governments. “Our discussions are not always easy, but they are always honest” said the German Chancellor. The Greek Prime Minister agreed with Angela Merkel, adding that “our relations are distinguished by straightness and stability.”
The German Chancellor made sure to send her message to the Greek government before the working lunch with the Greek Prime Minister began, stressing that “decisions on the Greek issue are not taken in Berlin.” As she said, consultations are made with the institutions and at the Eurogroup but Berlin is not a place where decisions are made”. However, she made sure to note that she we will discuss the Greek program with Alexis Tsipras, thus leaving a small window for optimism.
“We are going through a very critical period that tests our ability to respond to challenges: the economy, security, migration,” the Greek Prime Minister stressed, adding that “the period requires good faith, cooperation and mutual respect between partners. Our common goal is disengagement from the multiple crises and forging a new vision for Europe. ”
Alexis Tsipras said that the “common threat is the rise of the extreme right in Europe and it must be dealt with by the democratic forces.”
The Prime Minister made reference to the difficulties observed with Turkey following the “heinous coup of July” and stressed meaningfully that “Greece will not tolerate any questioning of its sovereign rights.”
He also mentioned the Cyprus issue and the ongoing talks, an issue that will be discussed by the two leaders during their private meeting.
Finally, the Greek premier made extensive reference to economic issues, stressing that he will inform the Chancellor of the positive trajectory of the Greek economy, the well performing revenues and the extremely positive forecasts for coming years.
“Our vision is for growth that doesn’t just concern statistics and figures but one that is also fair and this requires courageous decisions from partners”, Alexis Tsipras meaningfully noted, calling for a message to be put out that the sacrifices of the Greek people have borne fruit.
According to IBNA sources, the Prime Minister presented to the Chancellor the positive performance of the Greek economy and pointed out the great importance that the swift conclusion of the second review, the short term debt relief measures and QE inclusion have.
Alexis Tsipras told the Chancellor of his concerns over the stance of the IMF in negotiations as well as the possible desire the Fund may have to abandon the Greek program.
Furthermore, he stressed that the delay of the IMF decision on whether to stay in the Greek program or not – given the political change in the US that could impact on balances – creates concerns about the conclusion of the timely review.
The two leaders also discussed the fact that European – Turkish relations are at a critical turn and that the Cyprus issue and the refugee crisis are especially important in this context.
The Greek PM analyzed the great effort in the refugee issue, noting again that it is crucial that the EU-Turkey deal is upheld, but at the same time other EU member-states must assume responsibilities both immediately in terms of relocation and providing officials as well as long term.
Finally he briefed the Chancellor on the Greek positions on the Cyprus issue and the importance of bilateral deliberation between Greece and Turkey in order for the multilateral conference on the issue to be successful. He also stressed that the EU must have a role in the multilateral talks.
Photos: IBNA/Spiros Sideris