Merkel in Athens for final visit

Merkel in Athens for final visit

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at 10:50 a.m. Friday at the latter’s office in Maximos Mansion, it was announced Thursday afternoon.

Statements to the press will follow the meeting.

Earlier Friday, Merkel will meet with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

The German Chancellor, who is retiring after 16 year’s in the office, will arrive in Athens at 8 p.m. Thursday. Mitsotakis will host her for dinner at his home Thursday night.

Government sources noted that Merkel’s visit, following the invitation extended by Mitsotakis during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Slovenia, is a highly symbolic visit.

Merkel’s role during Greece’s protracted fiscal crisis is well known. She, along with other European leaders, helped keep Greece in the eurozone but is also criticized for a short-sighted initial response, although her prioritizing the interests of German banks over the Greek people was not unexpected.

The same government sources said Greece in 2021 is radically different from that of 2010 or 2015, but the EU, with its Recovery and Resilience Fund, has also changed its ways. At the same time, they added, the visit comes at a time when Europe is searching for ways to cope with the twin crises of energy and the pandemic.

From the Greek side, it is considered a given that the meeting will include an overview of bilateral relations, while issues such as Greek-Turkish and Euro-Turkish relations are expected to be discussed after the latest developments and the ongoing Turkish provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and its use of immigration to gain leverage. The agenda will also touch on the moves that Greece has made in the energy sector with the most recent example being the signing of an agreement with Egypt for the connection of the two countries’ electricity grids.

The talks will also focus on bilateral economic relations, as well as the European debate on how to adapt the union’s fiscal rules to meet the challenges of the times and the new reality created by the pandemic.

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