“As presidents we want, on our level, to stabilize the long friendship between Germans and Greeks. There are so many bridges of understanding,” he said after the meeting.
Gauck insisted on Germany’s commitment to seeing Greece remain in the European Union and that Athens’ reform program has become one of Berlin’s main policies. He added that there is a mutual desire to stabilize the good relations between the two countries, pointing to the large number of bilateral contacts, as well as the large numbers of Greeks living in Germany and the persistently large numbers of Germans that choose to spend their holidays in Greece.
Room for improvement on Refugee Crisis
Referring to the refugee crisis, Gauck described it as a critical situation and said there was room for improving European solidarity on this issue. “We do not yet know every point of our governments’ strategies, how they want to permanently solve the problem, but we cannot imagine that one country can manage on its own,” he said.
He stressed that it was in the common interest of Europeans that they should not leave Greece to struggle to secure its borders unaided: “As Europeans, we must seek not only national solutions but solutions in common and know that we can count on one another.”
The German president pointed out that Greece was faced with an even greater burden as a result of the refugee flows, in addition to the challenges of economic reform, and that it was hard to conceive how the country could cope without solidarity from its European partners.
Don’t always see eye-to-eye with Greece
On the issue of Greece’s demands for war reparations, Gauck noted that Athens and Berlin do not have a “common opinion on all the legal issues but looked at one another with the eyes of friendship and know that we belong to one another and want to stay together.”