Friday, January 11, 2013
Germany's Schaeuble to meet Greek anti-bailout firebrand
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will meet Greek anti-bailout politician Alexis Tsipras in Berlin on Monday and will try to persuade him to back Athens' austerity measures, a finance ministry spokeswoman said on Friday.
Tsipras, whose leftist SYRIZA party leads opinion polls in Greece, has led opposition to the spending cuts and tax hikes that Germany has demanded in return for billions of euros in aid to stave off the country's bankruptcy.
"The finance minister is of the view that the (Greek) reform process, the success of the reform process, is important and so should be supported by all political forces," spokeswoman Marianne Kothe told a news conference.
"We are using the talks to encourage this," she said, adding that the meeting had been agreed at Tsipras's own request.
Tsipras, who has accused Germany of using the euro zone debt crisis to dominate Europe, met no government ministers when he visited Berlin last year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Schaeuble have in the past strongly criticised Greece's failure to meet tough fiscal targets but have voiced support for the new government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and have praised its political courage in undertaking economic reforms.
Merkel, who says she wants Greece to stay in the euro, reiterated her support for the Samaras government when he visited Berlin on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of Greeks, including many SYRIZA supporters, staged angry protests last October when Merkel visited Athens for the first time since Greece's sovereign debt crisis erupted in late 2009.
Many Greeks blame Germany, and Merkel and Schaeuble in particular, for their economic suffering.
(Reporting by Gareth Jones; editing by Ron Askew)