Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday as part of an effort to convince key leaders ahead of the troika review in September that Greece should be allowed to reduce taxes and increase the payment period for businesses and individuals who owe money to the state.
The two politicians met on the sidelines of a European People’s Party gathering in Brussels and ahead of a European Council dinner. There were no statements after their talks but sources on the Greek side said that Samaras presented Merkel with Greece’s recent fiscal statistics and the figures concerning rising tourist arrivals. They also discussed Greece’s return to international bond markets and the growing investment interest from China.
Greek government sources insisted that there was no attempt by Samaras – nor will there be – to convince the country’s lenders to relax structural adjustment targets. Greece still has some 600 actions to carry out by the fall. Instead, Samaras wants to focus on the coalition’s desire to lower taxes and provide debtors with some breathing space. It is expected that after Wednesday’s talks with Merkel, he will promote this line in meetings with other eurozone leaders too.
The two leaders also discussed appointments to key European Union positions. Greece has yet to name its nominee for a position on the European Commission. Ex-Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and former Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis remain favorites for the post, although it is not yet known which portfolio will be awarded to Greece.