SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has been told by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during the pair’s meeting in Berlin that Greece needs to stick to its fiscal consolidation program.
"Minister Schaeuble has told Mr Tsipras unequivocally that there is no alternative to the... implementation of the economic adjustment program. Minister Schaeuble urged Mr Tsipras to back the path embarked upon,» a German Finance Ministry source told Reuters.
The two politicians had been at odds in the past over the austerity measures being demanded by Greece’s lenders. Their apparent opposite opinions have generated considerable interest about their meeting.
“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,» German spokeswoman Marianne Kothe told a news conference on Friday.
“We are using the talks to encourage this,” she said, adding that the meeting had been agreed at Tsipras's own request.
Ahead of the meeting, the SYRIZA leader said it was in Greece’s interests for his party to smooth over relations with the German government.
“SYRIZA wants to have normal relations with the governments that play an important role in Greek and European affairs.”
“The Germans are very practical people,” he added. “They can see that SYRIZA could be the next government and they want to prepare the ground by having direct contact with us. We want the same.”
In an interview with Deutsche Welle’s Greek service over the weekend, Tsipras referred to convincing the German government that there should be a “review” of Greece’s fiscal consolidation program.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou identified this as a departure from SYRIZA’s position that it would tear up Greece’s EU-IMF bailout agreement if it came to power.
“Is this the same person that was promising the Greek people he would cancel with one law the memorandum and loan agreement?” said Kedikoglou.