Tsipras in debt talks with Merkel

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Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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Alexis Tsipras is visiting Germany for the first time since becoming Greece’s prime minister.

He is due to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel as his debt-ridden country and its key creditor seek to halt a downward spiral in relations.

Mr Tsipras’s visit comes after Mrs Merkel and other European leaders told him last week to come up with budget cuts and tax increases which would enable him to get urgently needed bailout money.

Mrs Merkel has played down the chances of Mr Tsipras producing those measures when they meet, saying “it is not the place for any lists with proposed reforms to be submitted” and they must go to Greece’s international debt inspectors, not to Germany.

Mr Tsipras’s first weeks in office have been marked by tensions over the two governments’ contrasting approaches to the debt crisis and Athens’ revival of calls for Second World War reparations from Berlin. Mr Tsipras’s party won elections in January after campaigning against the spending cuts favoured by Germany.

German officials have complained about their Greek counterparts making commitments and then publicly casting doubt on them, but also insist the debt spat is not a bilateral matter between the two countries.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told ARD television yesterday that he is hoping for a “new beginning” in relations.

“The Greek government must clearly recognise that the rest of Europe, Germany too, wants to help but that we cannot do that without something in return, without fair agreements on the necessary reforms,” he said – though he added that “social hardship is huge” in Greece and must be addressed.

Mrs Merkel’s governing coalition insists talk of wartime reparations has no place in discussions of Greece’s debt troubles.

German officials say the matter was resolved through previous payments and agreements.

“The reparations demands were another distraction from Greece to divert attention from their own failings,” Michael Grosse-Broemer, the parliamentary chief whip of Mrs Merkel’s conservative bloc, told Deutschlandradio.

Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor

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