German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will visit Athens next week, her first visit to debt-ridden Greece since the three-year eurozone governmental debt crisis threatened to undermine the world’s economic fortunes.
Ms. Merkel has often drawn the anger of Greeks protesting in the streets against the austerity measures that she has demanded be imposed before international lenders will hand Greece more bailout money. Trade union leaders immediately called for new protests against her when she visits on Tuesday.
But Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Friday he is glad the German leader had accepted his invitation.
“It is a very positive development that the chancellor has accepted our invitation to Athens and we will welcome her as is befitting to a leader of a great, friendly nation such as Germany.”
Greece, with high unemployment and the prospect of a sixth year of recession in 2013, is at a crucial point in negotiating new austerity terms with its international lenders. The Athens government says it will run out of money late next month and needs more bailout money to meet its financial obligations.
Greece has been forced to secure two international rescue packages, but leaders of some of the other 16 nations in the euro currency bloc have grown impatient at the pace of Greek economic reforms. Germany said Friday it wants Greece to remain in the eurozone, but also to adhere to the austerity pledges it has made to its lenders.