Angela Merkel recognized Germany’s responsibility for WW II war crimes committed by the Nazis in Greece during her meeting with the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Friday.
Following her laying a wreath at the Unknown Soldier’s Monument at Syntagma square, the German Chancellor visited the Greek presidential mansion, where she was welcomed by the Greek president at 10:15 AM local time (08:15 GMT).
Pavlopoulos thanked Merkel for her hospitality during his official visit in Berlin three years ago and said that “by supporting Greece, you are supporting Europe,” highlighting the crucial role of the upcoming European elections.
Pavlopoulos added that some misunderstandings regarding Greece’s irreversible decision to remain in the E.U. have been cleared up since 2016.
“Since then, we have followed the European course, making many sacrifices, even for mistakes that could not be attributed to us. Germany and you yourself have backed Greece and its effort to exit the memoranda” the Greek president remarked.
“What you did, was good for Germany and strengthened your own leading European profile”, Pavlopoulos then noted, adding that Germany, by supporting Greece, is supporting the cohesion of the E.U.
Referring to the thorny issue of German war reparations, Pavlopoulos said that the Greek claims are legally active and will be settled in international courts.
As for the rise of far-right and populist parties across the European Union, the Greek President spoke of the need to counter populism by making changes in three pillars of the EU edifice.
He believes in strengthening foreign and security policy, where he highlighted the principle of solidarity; supporting the Eurozone, and strengthening the welfare state.
Merkel stated that Greek-German relations have developed and there is great interest in Greece being a strong member of the E.U. She then pointed out that “we are glad Greece has completed the [fiscal] programs and started a new phase”.
”We hope that economic growth will have an impact on all citizens” Merkel noted, and added that ”we will face the challenges of Europe together”.
Regarding the World War II-era crimes of the German Nazis, Merkel noted that “Germany assumes the absolute responsibility for the country’s historical obligations”. She added that for Germany it is an ”issue of the heart” to support Greece, for the common good of both nations.
Due to the strict security measures taken for Merkel’s visit, many central streets of Athens remained closed, causing massive traffic jams from the early hours of Friday. Public transportation was even affected, as the underground, trains and buses altered their routes to avoid the center of the Greek capital.