Merkel meets Tsipras in Greece as WWII tensions linger

Greece and Germany bury the hatchet, but WWII reparations still cast a shadow

Greece and Germany bury the hatchet, but WWII reparations still cast a shadow

The UN Refugee Agency recently said 32,000 people entered Greek islands from Turkey past year - compared to a 2015 peak of 850,000, which resulted in an EU-Turkey pact to identify asylum-seekers and send back so-called economic migrants.

"I don't believe in deterrence, meaning that I must make things bad enough so that no one will come anymore", she said, adding that the answer lay far more in developing humane perspectives in the refugees' countries of origin. The Chancellor is faced during your visit with two of the key challenges that are likely to remain with their term of office, connected, and also for Tsipras: The fight against the debt crisis and the refugee crisis, the Merkel nearly cost him the office.

Questioned by pupils, Merkel acknowledged that the EU-Turkey deal was dysfunctional, causing what she termed "this pressurized situation of the Greek islands". "Europe needs to take care of that too", Merkel admitted.

The German Chancellor, in reference to the upcoming European elections, said that she was united with Tsipras "in the deeply-held conviction that it is through cooperation in Europe, not nationalism, that we will have a better future".

Despite significant ideological and political differences, both then and now, "we were able to find a common ground because the priority was to rescue Greece but also Europe itself", Tsipras said, expressing his pride that Greece was no longer part of the problem in Europe but part of the solution.

The EU's "hotspot" screening system on islands had from the start been unable to cope, Oxfam said, citing cases of pregnant women being sent from camp clinics back to tents.

There has been no official announcement about why Mrs Merkel is visiting, but the unanimous view here in Athens is that she's concerned about the fate of last summer's agreement between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev, and wants to see it ratified by the Greek Parliament as a step towards easing chronic Balkan tensions.

Greek daily Kathimerini quoted Merkel as saying Greece had Germany's full support, saluting the "close ties" between the two European Union states and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners.

Merkel's statements follow those made five years ago by the German president at the time, Joachim Gauck, who publicly asked for "forgiveness in the name of Germany" from the families of the victims of a massacre carried out by the German army during the occupation.

Tensions linger over wartime reparations for the World War II Nazi occupation of Greece, with Berlin arguing the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.

Now Greek prime minister, Mr Tsipras was more welcoming this week.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.