Merkel visits Greece after bond success

Six months ago, during a visit to Berlin by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Athens for its reform efforts, underscoring in particular the so-called “primary surplus” in the Greek budget. For the first time in 11 years the Greek government took in more revenue than it spent; that is, if one leaves out the interest from its old debts.

The visit to Athens by Merkel on Friday was seen by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos as proof that his country had finally “opened a new chapter” in its efforts to reform the economy.

In light of the return of Greece to the bond markets, Merkel wanted to show a sign of support, Venizelos explained on the sidelines of the EU foreign minister’s meeting on Saturday in Athens.

For weeks now in Athens speculation has been rife over when Greece will risk returning to financial markets. An argument against such a move is the reticence of the rating agency Moody’s to boost the country’s credit rating. A decision was initially expected last week, but has now postponed until early August.

The visit by Merkel, on the other hand, had given the optimists a new lease on life.