Almost five years ago, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who rolled out the red carpet for Angela Merkel on Thursday, was loudly calling for the German Chancellor to “go back.”
During a rally on Lesvos prior to the May, 2014 European elections, the firebrand leader of SYRIZA incited the crowds by launching an unprecedented attack against the German chancellor.
“There is one message Greece should send [to the rest of Europe]… Go back, Madame Merkel; Go Back, Mr. Schauble; Go Back, Europe’s conservative establishment; Go Back, you people from the troika,” Tsipras shouted.
For Tsipras and his followers, Merkel was the epitome of conservative Europe, which was seen as imposing harsh austerity on Greece.
The animosity was all too evident then, but as The Guardian wrote in 2015, after Tsipras became Greece’s prime minister, “Merkel created Tsipras.”
“Were it not for five years of wrenching German-scripted austerity in Greece, the leftist radical could not have dreamed of becoming prime minister,” the British daily wrote.
Things have radically changed since those early days. Now Tsipras views Merkel as an indispensable partner. The Greek premier praises the chancellor for her stance on the migrant crisis in Europe and the aid she offered to struggling Greece.
It is reported that the pair speak to each other frequently by phone. In contrast to the worst days of the Euro-crisis (in the summer of 2015), when the chancellor was greeted with posters daubed with swastikas, along with mass demonstrations, Merkel now looks forward to a friendly reception on Thursday.
German daily Handelsblatt says that for Merkel’s part, the admiration is mutual.
She now doesn’t view Tsipras as a political “pariah” but as a “pragmatist”, who has proven himself over the compromise on the FYROM “name issue” and his courageous defense of the Prespa agreement.
Watch Alexis Tsipras’ verbal attack on Merkel in 2014: