Posted by Imaduddin
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said economic reforms in Greece had brought “the first tender shoots of success,” as she hosted a visit by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
With Greece eying a return to economic growth in the third quarter, Merkel also insisted that the revival was “made possible by the structural reforms” and privatisations, as well as factors such as a strong summer tourism season.
Germany has been the biggest national contributor to bailout funds granted to Greece on condition of tough reforms by the so-called “troika” of creditors comprising the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“I can only say, especially to the Greek people, that I know what a difficult time the country is going through, how many people are still unemployed,” said Merkel at a joint press conference.
“But the first tender shoots of success from these efforts are visible and we will do everything from the German side to support this.”
She also said Germany would push on with a programme to help Greek small and medium enterprises with loans.
Samaras, who has said he wants to exit the bailout programme early, stressed that Greece wants to “stand on its own feet”.
He said a return to economic growth was forecast for the third quarter of 2014, with GDP growth set to rise to 2.9 percent next year and to 3.7 percent in 2016.
“Greece was the weak link of Europe, but this is now in the past, and we will never fall back into this position,” he said.
The country had “reached a series of difficult goals in a much shorter period than initially planned”.
“Greece, despite the very harsh austerity measures, managed to emerge from the recession after six years,” he said.
Samaras pointed out that unemployment was also falling for the first time since the crisis hit, although it remained excessively high, especially among youths.
The Greek prime minister also pointed at the future potential of natural gas pipelines planned to run from Azerbaijan to Europe, which he said could turn Greece with its seaports into “an energy hub”.