NEWS

Germany says Tsipras visit could trigger ‘serious talks’

BERLIN – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s talks with Angela Merkel cleared the air between the countries and might contribute to finding a solution to Athens’s financial problems, German officials said.

Merkel and Tsipras spoke for more than four hours over dinner on Monday in what the German chancellor’s spokesman said was a “good and constructive atmosphere.”

“I’m pleased that the atmosphere in German-Greek talks in recent days has changed and improved significantly,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after he in turn met Tsipras on Tuesday.

The Social Democrat (SPD) politician said this alone would not solve Greece’s financial problems, but it was “no doubt a precondition to begin serious talks in the coming days.”

Greece has to present a comprehensive list of economic reform plans soon to unlock aid, without which EU officials say it may run out of money by late April.

In Athens earlier on Tuesday, the government’s spokesman said a reform package would be ready by Monday at the latest.

Mismanagement

But one senior politician from Merkel’s conservatives, Michael Grosse-Broemer, told reporters: “What worries me is that Tsipas has still not accepted that it is years of economic mismanagement in Greece that caused the problems.”

“This fundamental understanding has to grow,” he said, adding: “Now they have to deliver.”

The parliamentary leader of Merkel’s SPD coalition partners, Thomas Oppermann, said a Greek exit from the euro one would be “a political disaster” but could not yet be ruled out.

The leader of Germany’s small but fast-growing euroskeptic AfD party, Bernd Lucke, said that so far Greece’s reform ideas lacked seriousness and consisted only of “rehashed” ideas.

Tsipras visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin on the second day of his visit to a country that his leftist government has demanded pay reparations dating from the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II.

In a news conference with Merkel on Monday, he said Athens’s call for reparations from Germany was a “moral issue and not a material one.”

[Reuters]