German Chancellor Angela Merkel's first visit to Athens in years was greeted by thousands of protesters on Tuesday. The protesters were rallying against the austerity measures that have been implemented by the Greek government in return for billions of euros in bailout funding from the eurozone.
Merkel was in the city to promote what she referred to as the friendship between Greece and Germany. Merkel said that Greece was going through "a very difficult phase," but that "a huge part of the journey has already been accomplished," as quoted by CNN.
Here is some of the key information to emerge regarding Merkel's visit to Greece and the protests in Athens on Tuesday.
* Merkel, who spoke to reporters alongside Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras following their meeting on Tuesday morning, said that "Germany and Greece are going to work very closely together" to achieve common European goals, as quoted by CNN.
* Samaras also touted the two nation's cooperative efforts, telling reporters that "we welcome a friend here today," as also quoted by CNN.
* Different accounts placed the protests at a minimum of 25,000, with some outlets, including an acb/wire report, estimating attendance at upwards of 50,000 people. The government had placed a ban on protesting within the city limits ahead of Merkel's visit.
* Germany, as the largest economy in the eurozone, is considered by many Greeks to be the driving force behind the austerity measures that the government has implemented in recent months.
* Merkel on Tuesday sought to reassure the protesters that the budget cuts and other measures that have been implemented by the Greek government were necessary, and that they have yielded tangible results, telling reporters that "there is progress every day," and that austerity measures "will pay off for Greece," as quoted by the acb/wire report.
* Euronews reported on Tuesday that Samaras pledged his ongoing commitment to implementing the measures necessary to control and reduce Greece's budget crisis, telling reporters after his meeting with Merkel that "there was progress" in his quest to put the country back on the right path, and that he would honor the terms of the agreement that he made with the eurozone in return for bailout funding earlier this year.
* Not all of the Greek government is on board with Samaras' pledge. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was reportedly among the protesters on Tuesday. Tsipras criticized the rest of the Greek government as being "Merkelistes" or "Merkelites" who will do anything to garner Germany's approval, as quoted by Ekathimerini.
Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.
- Politics & Government
- Political Demonstrations