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Tsipras Tells Merkel What Greek Policy Is

March 24, 2015 (EIRNS)—German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held their first official bilateral meeting yesterday in Berlin. Few details have been released: only talk of the easing of tension, good atmospherics, etc. What seems clear, though, is that Tsipras, who was not expecting any "breakthrough," took the opportunity to explain to Merkel his government’s policy, which is emphatically not to compromise on fighting for the interest of his country in the face of the humanitarian catastrophe inflicted on Greece by the policy that the Eurozone and Germany have imposed.

"I did not come here to ask for financial aid," Tsipras said.

"I came for an exchange of our thoughts and opinions, to see where there is common ground and where there is disagreement.... The Greeks are not layabouts, neither are the Germans to blame for Greece’s ills,"

said Tsipras. "We have to work hard to overcome these stereotypes."

Merkel said that she sensed an "appetite for cooperation," but insisted that she could not intervene to ease Greece’s liquidity concerns, because everything has to be decided in the forum of the Eurozone.

The Greek website DefenceNet reports that the Greek side had a positive assessment of the Merkel meeting, but will wait to see whether there are any tangible results. They report that Tsipras brought up the question of reparations, which he said was a moral issue. He also brought up the Siemens corruption case and asked for judicial cooperation.

But most important, he laid out the humanitarian catastrophe which the Memorandum has created in Greece, including the collapse of GDP by 25%, an unemployment rate of 25% (up from 12% in 2009), and youth unemployment already reaching 60%. More than 2 million people live at or below the poverty line, and the welfare state has collapsed. The Greek debt remains unsolved. Since it was 127% of GDP in 2009, it has soared to 175% today. The income of the poorest decreased by 86%, while their taxes have increased by 337%; by contrast, the income of the rich only decreased by 16%, while their taxes increased by only 9%.

Tsipras met today with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and expressed satisfaction that "the tone in Germany-Greece relations has considerably changed, has improved considerably, in recent days," and said this would open the way "for serious talks between us in the next few days."

Tsipras also met Die Linke parliamentary group leader Gregor Gysi and the party’s chairwoman Katja Kipping.

After their meeting, Gysi offered full support for Tsipras, who said that while the other 18 Eurozone governments wanted to continue with neo-liberal policies, Tsipras assured that his government would take an "anti-neoliberal" position.

Tsipras also met with the two party leaders of the Greens, Cem Özdemir and Simone Peter, and the deputy chairman of the Green Group in the European Parliament, Ska Keller. He also met with SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who is Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Economics Minister.