German FinMin to visit Athens as Berlin keeps eye on developments

A phone call to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday appears to have triggered a spurt of bilateral diplomacy, with reports emerging on Monday that Samaras will have talks with Merkel in Berlin on July 3 on the sidelines of a European forum on unemployment while her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is expected in Athens as early as next week.

Schaeuble accepted an invitation by his Greek counterpart Yannis Stournaras to visit Athens over the coming days, Greek Finance Ministry sources said on Monday, noting that the two diplomats had spoken by phone over the weekend when a growing rift within the Greek coalition widened and fears of fresh political instability resurfaced.

According to the same sources, Schaeuble told Greece’s new ambassador in Berlin, Panagiotis Zografos, that he intends to visit Athens soon. A statement issued by the German Finance Ministry quoted Schaeuble expressing optimism about signs of change in Greece. “In Greece, the first signs of successful reforms are visible, for instance in the tourism and exports sectors,” the statement said, adding however that more tough changes will be unavoidable. “Right now, there are no easy choices for Greece,” the statement added.

Schaeuble is reportedly intending to propose to Stournaras the implementation of a scheme for propping up small and medium-sized businesses similar to one already enforced in Spain.