German chancellor candidate Steinbrueck due in Athens for talks

The Social Democrat candidate for the German chancellorship, Peer Steinbrueck, is due in Athens on Tuesday for talks with government officials.

Steinbrueck, who has been critical of his rival Angela Merkel’s handling of Greece and the crisis in general, is due to hold talks on Wednesday with President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

The SPD candidate has advocated a greater show of solidarity for Greece by the German government and his trip is aimed to serve as an opportunity to gather information about the country’s challenges.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine this week, Steinbrueck suggests that Merkel and other European leaders should have shown greater support for Greece at the start of the crisis by guaranteeing its bonds.

“That would have sent a strong message to the markets and would have deterred attacks on the eurozone, which lasted for two years,” he said.

Steinbrueck also called for Merkel to “tell the truth” about what bailing out Greece would eventually cost German taxpayers.

His visit to Athens comes a week after PASOK's Venizelos held talks with the SPD chancellor candidate in Berlin.