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10 Jan, 2019 13:29

Merkel ‘inspects the desert she made’: Varoufakis slams German chancellor’s visit to Greece

Merkel ‘inspects the desert she made’: Varoufakis slams German chancellor’s visit to Greece

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis slammed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of a two-day visit by Merkel to the austerity-stricken country.

“Mrs Merkel is in Greece to inspect the desert she made and to call it... recovery,” Varoufakis tweeted on Thursday. “Ironically, her Greek triumph unleashed deflationary forces that hit Germany (eg -ve interest rates) and wrecked her career. Never before has a German Chancellor wasted so much political capital.”

Merkel’s visit to Greece is her first since 2014, and the first since left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took office in 2015. Before arriving on Thursday, Merkel said that Greece can “continue to count on its partnership and friendship with Germany.”

For many Greeks, the feeling is not mutual. With the country’s economy in tatters after the 2008 financial crisis, German-led austerity measures saw the country’s GDP shrink by a third, left one in three Greeks in danger of living in poverty, and saw unemployment rise to 18.6 percent – the highest in the Eurozone.

Meanwhile, German banks made €2.9 billion in profit from purchasing Greek government bonds through the European Central Bank. Greece exited the European assistance program last year, but will face another decade at least of austerity budgets and onerous economic reforms.

Merkel is expected to congratulate Tsipras’ government on exiting the bailout program, and urge his government to stay the course with the reforms when the pair meet on Thursday. The two leaders are also expected to discuss a deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that would change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

The issue of reparations for Greek victims of Nazi occupation may also be discussed, according to reports.

Left-wing groups have planned street protests to greet Merkel. The police presence in Athens has been stepped up and public gatherings in the city center have been banned.

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