Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet Sept. 23 in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is an important meeting for both Samaras and Greece.
There have been critical meetings of the two in the past, most importantly at the beginning of Samaras’ premiership, when he had to convince Merkel that he deserved her trust and that he would work day and night to keep Greece in the Eurozone.
The upcoming meeting is at the antipodes from the first.
Now the challenge is different: To determine whether Merkel is aware of the austerity fatigue the Greek people are suffering, and whether she is open to a more lenient approach to the targets set by the Troika.
If not, then she must be prepared to welcome to Berlin in the future the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras as the next Prime Minister of Greece.
Samaras’ position with Merkel is fairly strong. He has maintained a more or less steady course in two years as Prime Minister.
But while he strives to improve the situation in the context of the Memoranda, his hands are tied with respect to his battle with Tsipras.
That’s because the leader of the opposition can promise everything to everyone and thus earns points easily. This fact is confirmed by the latest polls.
A Sept. 18 poll in particularly is troublesome. Not only is the gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy, which has reached 6 percent, becoming substantial, but it also appears to also reflect that Tsipras is gaining speed now that he seems to have broken the acceptance barrier that until now kept his poll numbers low.
Under these developing conditions it is even more in his interests to risk early elections rather than let time fly and the difference to increase. But sentimentalism has no place in bilateral relations.
Samaras cannot count on his friendly relationship to cause Merkel to help him out. The only question that will determine her position will be who better serves her interests, Tsipras or Samaras?
Does she prefer the known quantity and the for the most part steady hand at the helm of Samaras, or the unknown and uncertain hand of Tsipras? And why?
At the end of the day there is only one question: Does Merkel want Greece to stay in the Eurozone or not? I’m sure these are the questions Samaras will pose to the Chancellor of Germany.
The answers will determine whether Samaras will call for early elections soon after he returns to Athens, or break the Troika blockade against government spending and gain time for the positive effects of it to become more visible to the people, and then call for elections.