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Merkel hears Greek reform plan in person

Monday, March 23, 2015 - 02:06

Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras have sought to play down the drama of the Greek leader's first official visit to Berlin. But as Sonia Legg reports open scepticism among the Chancellor's allies has spawned media portrayals of a western-style showdown.

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Both leaders had played down talk of a drama. But that didn't stop the newspapers speculating about the Greek Prime Minister's first official trip to Berlin. Angela Merkel had already joked about the likelihood of an argument. But there's nothing to laugh about when it comes to Greece's finances. Alexis Tsipras knows he needs funds asap. He said as much in a letter to Merkel ahead of the meeting, admitting Greece would probably be unable to make debt payment within a few weeks without more financial help. It's all a big worry for many in Greece. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) ATHENS RESIDENT, GEORGE CHRISTODOULOU, AGED 58, SAYING: "These are difficult times, we need a simple compromise from both sides. We must not push it to the edge but they should also back down, or things will get hard." (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) ATHENS RESIDENT SAYING: "We are overcome with nervousness, we had no trust in the previous government - which was completely incompetent - and we have no trust in the current one either - they seem to believe in outdated 19th century ideologies." The UK's Financial Times says in the letter Tspiras blames conditions imposed by the European Central Bank and the euro zone's bailout authorities for some of Greece's woes. Rabobank's Jane Foley says someone needs to give. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RABOBANK, SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "Once again we have come to the situation were things are very, very crucial and I think this week we will see some concessions given to Greece because after all polticians don't want Greece out of the system." There was talk of another letter ahead of the meeting - this one dates back to the second world war. It details Greece's war reparation demands. It all made the meeting a high stakes event. German politician Herbert Reul spoke for many in Berlin. (SOUNDBITE) (German) LEADER OF CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION (CDU)/CHRISTIAN SOCIAL UNION (CSU) GROUP IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, HERBERT REUL, SAYING: "There cannot be a special treatment. There must be a serious effort, we have to make sure of that. I am also in favour of helping the Greeks. But it cannot be that all of Europe is thrown into turmoil because the Greeks have promised something." It's hoped the meeting will improve relations between Greece and its main lender. But one get together is unlikely to resolve all their differences - and time and money are quickly running out...

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Merkel hears Greek reform plan in person

Monday, March 23, 2015 - 02:06