EU Parliament chief to visit Athens

The head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz is expected in Athens on Tuesday, in the first visit of a high-ranking EU politician to debt-stricken Greece since last April.

Schulz is expected to meet with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos at 3 p.m., before addressing Parliament, which is due to vote on the same day on additional cuts to pensions — one of several so-called ?prior actions? demanded by foreign creditors.

He will also meet with Greek President Karolos Papoulias, Parliamentary Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos, and the heads of PASOK, George Papandreou, and New Democracy, Antonis Samaras.

Schulz’s visit comes a day after Germany’s parliament approved a second loan package for Greece with an overwhelming majority of 496 votes for to 90 against, though ahead of other votes in other eurozone parliaments on the Greek bailout due in coming days before an EU summit on Thursday and Friday.

“I want to express our solidarity with the Greek people who are living through very hard times. Aid to Greece is in Greece’s interest and the wider European interest,» Schulz said ahead of the visit.