By Spiros Sideris – Athens
The ten-hour visiting of German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to the greek capital has formally given the greek government the political support it was seeking after the successful return to the bond markets and the issue of a five-year bond.
Antonis Samaras and Angela Merkel once again showed that there is a very friendly atmosphere in their relations, something that was highlighted by both of them during the joint press conference at the Maximos Palace.
“Congratulations you did it”, the German chancellor stated meanigfully. Besides the return to the bond markets, she stood on the country’s fiscal progress noting that from now on “Greece will have more opportunities than problems”.
She used very positive words to comment on the government’s efforts, noting however, that it had to be based on the sacrifices of the Greek people and stressed that the successful bond issue means the country is starting to gain the confidence of the markets and urged the government to continue on the same path.
This fall, the discussions on the debt
Regarding the issue of the sustainability of the greek debt, the German chancellor replied that her country continues to support Greece and awaits the formal confirmation of the primary surplus in April by Eurostat.
“It is important to wait for the confirmation of the primary surplus and in the coming months enter the debate on how to help Greece with the debt”, said Merkel, adding that “the discussion on the future of Greece is not complete. The existing program will be completed in 2014 and we should examine the sustainability of Greek debt”.
“This debate however, takes place in a completely new situation. In the fall we will have a global view and will discuss it. Exactly what will be done, will be decided by the Finance ministers”, were the Chancellor’s words.
Samaras : Our fate has changed – We did
In a correspondingly optimistic tone the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, stressed that the country is now in a better fate, something that was achieved thanks to the sacrifices of the Greeks and the solidarity of the European partners.
“We agreed that the efforts should be continued, but the developments that have taken place recently, the size of the primary surplus , the return to the people that were hurt the most of a social dividend, the decision of the Ecofin and the return to the bond markets – it is clear and the chancellor is aware of it – is owed to the enormous sacrifices and patience of the Greek people”, Samaras said, noting that these sacrifices are yielding results and the country has passed through the most difficult phase.
“The main concern and priority for the government now is to enhance development, to safeguard the surpluses, in order to to give new breath to the economy and to remedy injustices and particularly unemployment”, Samaras added.
Both Antonis Samaras and Angela Merkel declined to comment on the upcoming elections, while the prime minister referred to the possibility of early parliamentary elections, saying “I do not think of the election – What I do, I do for the country”.
“Warm” welcome to the chancellor with rallies and demonstrations
On the other hand, a “warm” reception to Angela Merkel was given by the main opposition, trade unions and other parties, which organised a protest against the visit of the chancellor in Klafthmonos Square.
Taking part in the rally were SYRIZA , the ANTARSYA , the EPAM ADEDY and several other unions, reacting in this way to the prohibition of demonstrations that had been decided by the government due to Merkel’s visit.
Security measures were in any case draconian, while police forces did not allow the demonstrators to move towards Syntagma Square.
The demonstrations were completed late on Friday afternoon without incidents and tensions.
SYRIZA : “Our people do not deserve such a prime minister – He will continue the same policy along with Merkel”
Koumoundourou, for its part, responded with harsh language to what Angela Merkel and Antonis Samaras stated during Friday’s press conference at Maximos Palace.
“The statements of Ms. Merkel and Mr. Samara confirmed the full agreement of the two sides for the continuation of the same policy of austerity and memorandums”, says SYRIZA in a statement.
The main opposition “attacks” Samaras emphasizing that “the Prime Minister, once again, did not address any of the issues the country is faced with, but rather limited himself to his acknowledgements to the German chancellor for honoring him with her visit, to wishful thinking for (the country’s) recovery and the usual fake tears for the sacrifices of the Greek people”.
“Our people do not deserve such a prime minister, do not deserve such treatment”, concludes SYRIZA’S statement.