German President Joachim Gauck, who is due in Athens on Wednesday, has stressed the significance of European support for Greece’s economic recovery in a written interview with Kathimerini, comparing it to the backing granted to West Germany by the allied forces after World War Two.
“All of us in Europe want a competitive, prosperous Greece with self-confidence and with prospects in and together with the European Union,” the president said, adding that he was encouraged by Greece’s “first economic successes” since the onset of the crisis. The EU prediction of a return to growth in Greece and other positive developments “give courage and strength for the major challenges ahead,” he said.
Gauck encouraged Athens to persist with tough economic reforms, noting that Germany had been in a similar position to Greece a decade ago and had pulled through via reform.
Asked about Greece’s claims for reparations from Germany for losses suffered in WWII, Gauck said Germans have “a particular responsibility” but would not be drawn on the legal issue. “We do not want to deny the moral debt, nor to relativize it,” he said.
Gauck is to visit Ioannina in northwestern Greece with President Karolos Papoulias and meet members of the Jewish community.