Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is scheduled to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Jan. 14, officials said. Scheuble, after conferring with the Greek government, agreed to meet Tsipras, who had asked to see him.
It was expected that Schaeuble would reiterate support for austerity measures demanded by international lenders and supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Schaeuble has pushed for a consensus of Greece’s political parties but SYRIZA is vehemently opposed to the pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that were conditions of Greece receiving $325 billion in two bailouts.
But it was reported that Schaeuble wants to hear Tsipras’ arguments directly. The Leftist leader has not said what he would do if his party takes power and he dismantles the agreement that would leave Greece broke as the lenders would stop disbursing money. Schaeuble said he would not cut off talks, however.
Up to now, Germany has only dealt with Leftist parties that are already in power, such as the Communist President of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, who is leaving office next month. Tsipras, whose party has fallen slightly behind the New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, has been trying to raise his international profile, including a pending visit to Washington, D.C. to speak at the Brookings Institution, and then a trip to New York to speak at Columbia University.
It was expected that the Berlin meeting will open other European doors for Tsipras and that he would try to capitalize on the publicity to give his party a boost in Greece. He will arrive in the German capital on Jan. 12 to take part in a one-day seminar of European’s Leftist parties and to speak there. His agenda includes a trip to Hannover and other activities in Germany.