German Chancellor Angela Merkel today endorsed the reforms undertaken by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and stressed that, although she is pleased with the new situation in Greece, "the end of the road" has not been reached.
"Germany contributed a lot to overcoming the crisis but it was the Hellenic people who had to suffer for the reforms, especially the unemployed," said Merkel on her first visit to Athens with Tsipras as prime minister and after Greece's exit from the rescue.
It has rained a lot since his previous visit in 2014, when Greece was ruled by the conservatives and Tsipras shouted "Go, Mrs. Merkel!", And the prime minister reminded him when he received the chancellor, when he told him that "Today comes to a different Greece, which has overcome the crisis".
"In its previous visit, five years ago, the country was on the edge of the abyss, with the economy faltering, with society suffering and dying, with a million unemployed" but "today, however, things are different, we are leaving of the crisis definitely, "said Tsipras.
For Tsipras, who inherited two bailouts and has spent much of his mandate negotiating under the yoke of creditors, Greece has become part of the solution and a pillar of stability in the region.
"His visit puts an end to a difficult cycle in relations between our countries," said Tsipras, who added that despite all their differences and tough negotiations were "the only way to save Greece and Europe."
In addition, they referred to the new challenges facing the European Union in a year of multiple elections, such as the rise of the extreme right, which he defined as "the main danger for Europe."
"We do not belong to the same political family but we share the same values," the foreign minister said.
"We share the perception that cooperation is better than nationalism, which generated so many disasters in Europe, we Germans know it well," he added.
At the meeting they also spoke about migration, the need to reform European asylum policies and to stabilize the Balkans, highlighting the agreement that Greece has signed with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to change the name of the country, which would allow the start of negotiations with the European Union (EU) and its entry into NATO.
"I can only congratulate the Greek prime minister for taking such a decisive step, which will not only benefit Greece and FYROM, but all of Europe," Merkel thanked.
The arrival in Athens of Merkel coincides with the last debate and imminent vote in Skopje on the constitutional reforms necessary for the country to be renamed Macedonia of the North, after which the agreement will enter the Hellenic Parliament for ratification.
Tomorrow he will meet with the main leader of the Greek opposition, the conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is against the agreement, although Merkel stressed that it will not influence the positions of the parties.
"Oppositions must criticize naturally, but when there are major national problems they must maintain a correct attitude," he said.
Security measures have multiplied in the city on the occasion of the visit of the chancellor, with about 2,000 police officers in the streets.
Although the police had banned the demonstrations today and tomorrow in areas where Merkel will pass – like the one that the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn (AD) had called for the German embassy – several hundred people participated in a summoned by collectives of the parliamentary left.
This resulted in brief clashes with the police, who responded with tear gas.