German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel held talks with Greece’s political leadership in Athens Thursday against the backdrop of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the steady rise of Euroskepticism in recent years, and spoke of the bloc’s need to chart a new direction that would spark more growth and investments.
“I believe we should be concerned with what will we do in Europe, so that the divergent forces become ones of convergence in the immediate future,” he said during his meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, adding later – after talks with Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis – that Greece should not be subjected to further austerity as that would jeopardize the small signs on “growth on the horizon.” Pavlopoulos, for his part, said that the bid to “fulfill the European vision of unity will be made by all those of us that believe in Europe.”
Gabriel insisted that German investors will only come to Greece if there is transparency in administration, a stable and transparent tax system and qualified staff.
The German politician was accompanied by a team of businessmen which, the government hopes, will send the right signal to international investors as it tries to regain their confidence that Greece is entering a new phase and its economy is on the road to recovery.
According to aides to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Gabriel is viewed as one of Europe’s most active politicians in the effort to rehabilitate social democracy and the center-left on the continent, and his influence is considered crucial to Athens’s vision to foster a left-leaning turn in the EU.
During his meeting with Tsipras, both men discussed ways to press forward with an agenda that favors growth, employment and justice in Europe, as well as investments in the field of energy and, in particular, renewable resources.