Photo: (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Greece announced this morning that German prime minister Angela Merkel will be visiting Athens on Tuesday, October 9, in an apparent show of solidarity with the plight of the Greeks.Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, said the visit “would be ‘obviously’ marked by the ‘very serious situation of the country,'” reports DPA correspondent Christiane Jacke.
However, the Greek people may not be too into solidarity with Germany at the moment.
In fact, as a result of the announcement of the visit – which was made only this morning – several protest demonstrations to greet Merkel have already been announced.
Merkel has been vilified in some Greek media as dictating devastating austerity to Greece. One newspaper dressed her in a Nazi uniform on its cover. Germany’s popular press meanwhile has systematically depicted the Greeks as work-shy tax cheats.
But Greek labour unions called a work stoppage and a protest rally outside parliament during her visit, and a far-right anti-bailout party, the Independent Greeks, will demonstrate at the German embassy “to express in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel our opposition to Greece becoming a German protectorate”.
Ilias Iliopoulos, an official for one of the biggest labour unions in Greece, ADEDY, told Reuters: “This is how we welcome Mrs. Merkel.”
Reuters’ Yiannis Mouzakis tweeted a flyer made by the Independent Greeks alerting people of the Tuesday protest plans:
— Yiannis Mouzakis (@YiannisMouzakis) October 5, 2012
All of this comes before an important ECOFIN meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Monday, during which Greek aid was supposed to be discussed.
Societe Generale rates strategist Ciarán O’Hagan wrote in a note to clients this morning that it’s at the top of the agenda right now, moreso than Spain or other issues that need to be addressed:
The Eurogroup Finance Ministers meeting on Monday is key, but the outcomes are rather uncertain. At the top of the agenda is Greece, with no surprise likely: Greece will get a €31bn instalment to pay back creditors. Only a big upset on this front will hit risk sentiment.
However, an unnamed, “senior eurozone official” crushed those hopes today, telling – “I am extremely confident there will be no such decisions at the summit.”
Of course, that’s because Greece and the troika – or maybe the troika and itself – still can’t agree on budget cuts.