Greek PM on Bavarian charm offensive

9th December 2012, Comments 0 comments

Greece's prime minister travels to Bavaria in southern Germany on Sunday, home to some of the harshest critics of his country, with the aim of "resetting" relations between Athens and Munich.

Antonis Samaras will hold talks with Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer at around 6:00 pm local time (1700 GMT) and both will brief reporters ahead of the meeting.

The Greek leader set the tone for what he hopes will be better ties by telling the local Muenchner Merkur on the eve of the talks that he was "coming as a friend."

"We are partners who share the same values and ideals," he said.

Both sides had much to gain from talks, Samaras said, adding: "I am looking forward to a new beginning in our relations."

Seehofer's conservative CSU party, up for re-election in September, has been the origin of much of the most severe criticism of Greece's efforts to tackle its debt crisis and German aid for Athens.

At the height of the crisis earlier this year, several CSU members called for Greece to leave the eurozone, often sending financial markets into a tailspin.

The party, a junior coalition partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, has since toned down its rhetoric as Samaras has pushed through a raft of reforms to unlock vital international aid.

Amid a huge police presence and sometimes violent protests, Merkel herself visited Athens in October to signal her support for the government's efforts to slash debt.

© 2012 AFP

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