Merkel, Tsipras display goodwill amid tensions over Greek debt

Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras exchange goodwill messages after meeting in Berlin while talks over Greek structural reforms continue as Germany keeps hardline stance

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel put on a public display of mutual goodwill on Monday, appealing to Greeks and Germans to set aside recrimination and national stereotypes and work for a better European future.

Merkel and Tsipras spoke for more than four hours over dinner in what the German chancellor's spokesman said was a "good and constructive atmosphere."

Yet despite warm words on the new leftist premier's first official visit to Berlin, it was unclear if they had narrowed differences on economic reforms Greece must implement to win urgently needed fresh cash from its creditors.

Tsipras insisted he was not in Germany to solve Greece's pressing liquidity problems but to find common ground to move forward in the eurozone.

In a rebuke to his own justice minister, he said no one in Greece was considering seizing or auctioning off German property for war reparations for the Second World War, clearing the air about comments made by several officials from his administration.

"Please, let's leave these shadows of the past behind us," Tsipras said, stressing that the European Union was a force for stability in a troubled region. "Today's democratic Germany has nothing to do with the Germany of the Third Reich that took such a toll of blood."

Chancellor Merkel said Germany, which has the biggest population and economy in the EU, considers all European states as equals and wanted good relations with all, including Greece.

However, when it came to economics, Merkel maintained Germany’s strict stance saying: “You need structural reforms, a solid budget and a functioning administration.”

On the other hand, statements from senior Greek and European Union officials signalled progress in talks over Greek structural reforms.

The Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said it will present a package of reforms to its eurozone partners by next Monday in hope of unlocking aid to help it deal with a cash crunch and avoid default.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he expects Greece to reach an agreement with its eurozone partners within a week in order for the much-needed cash to be released.

Greece has pledged to present a package of proposed reforms for its ailing economy in a bid to win fresh aid from its creditors and avoid a debt default, which policymakers fear could force it out of the eurozone.

TRTWorld and agencies