Tsipras-Merkel meeting conducted in good spirit despite differences between Athens and Berlin

Tsipras-Merkel meeting conducted in good spirit despite differences between Athens and Berlin

Athens, March 24, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Despite the good climate, the divergence between Athens and Berlin remains, as it emerged at the joint press conference of the Greek Prime Minister and the German Chancellor.

Alexis Tsipras raised the issue of legal assistance from Germany for the case of Siemens, and the issue of German reparations and occupation loan, at the highest possible political level, while Angela Merkel replied that for Berlin the issue is considered closed, and insisted on the need for clear reforms referring to the institutions for the valuation.

“We know how the Greeks suffered from the Nazi regime… we do not ignore it as an issue – we will discuss it with Greece and will have relevant discussions”, Merkel added.

For the list of recommended reforms to be tabled by Athens, Merkel noted that they should be clear, that is, what kind of reforms and when they will be implemented. “Germany is not the institution that will decide, others will decide”, she said, referring to EU, ECB, IMF and Eurogroup.

Merkel stressed that Greek immigrants and German tourists are a living bridge between the two countries.

“I’d like for Greece to be a financially robust country out of the doldrums and to combat unemployment, especially in youth. It needs reforms and a balanced budget”, she added, while noting the cooperation with the task force and the scope for further cooperation in research and technology.

The Chancellor also indirectly admitted the gap between the two sides, saying that “we can talk about difficult issues although we have different positions and views”.

From his part, Tsipras stressed that “it is extremely important to try to understand each other -there is no other way than dialogue to find consensus and convergence”.

“Greece completes five years of the rescue plan despite the fact was unprecedented regarding its adaptation time, it was not success story, had a tremendous negative impact on society, with unacceptable unemployment and inability to achieve objectives in the public debt”.

“In these five years social inequalities have widened”, added the prime minister, stressing that according to German Research Foundation, taxes increased by 387% to the poorest and by 9%. the richest”, he said.

According to the Greek PM, ” it is simplistic to say that only foreigners are to blame for these problems, there are endogenous causes that contributed to Greece getting into this crisis. Inefficiency of the state, corruption, tax evasion of the rich layers remains”.

Alexis Tsipras explained that the aim of the Greek government is not to demolish what was positive in previous years, but change pathologies with major structural reforms, tax justice, addressing tax evasion and corruption, with the aim to pay their share of those who up to the present day did not pay.

“We had a fruitful discussion in order to identify common ground and differences, we will complete the adjustment process and to overcome the great crisis with social consensus”, he explained.

At this point he requested legal assistance for the proceedings of Siemens, also stressing that “we need to resolve the differences that come from the past and cast shadows, like the matter of the occupying loans and German reparations”. “It is primarily a moral issue”,  Tsipras noted.

“There is no issue of German property seizures. It is a matter of national legal claim under international law”, clarified the Greek PM when asked about the Goethe Institute.