In his first official visit to the German capital, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pledged to honour his country’s commitments following almost five years of austerity measures.
He said it was important to move away from stereotypes about the two nations, adding that Greece’s economic problems were not the fault of any one country or institution.
Speaking from a press conference in Berlin, both Tsipras and Merkel agreed Athens needs to make big structural reforms in order to fight widespread tax evasion and corruption in Greece.
Such reforms, combined with a solid Greek budget would provide the foundations for a return to growth and a rise in employment, they added.
At an EU summit in March, the Greek government promised to present its creditors with reform plans – relating to the 240-billion-euro Greek bailout plan – soon. Ahead of the Berlin talks, Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said the chancellor was looking forward to hearing Tsipras’ proposals “from the Greek prime minister’s mouth.”
Following the bilateral discussions, Merkel said no decision had been made on Tsipras’ list of reforms, stating this was the responsibility of Eurogroup finance ministers.
The chancellor has consistently taken a hardline stance on Greece’s debt crisis, pushing for the terms of the EU/IMF-imposed bailout plan to remain unchanged.
But economists say it is clear cash-strapped Greece is coming dangerously close to running out of money.
Reports suggest Greece’s coalition government, dominated by Tsipras’ Syriza party, may have to take money from insurance funds to pay pensions and public salaries at the end of March.