Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as part of his official visit to Greece.
Welcoming the Federal President at the Maximos Mansion, the Prime Minister said:
“It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Greece, this time as President of the Federal Republic of Germany, but always as a politician who fights for the unity of Europe and a very close friend of Greece.
We are honored that one of your last trips as Foreign Minister was in Greece and one of your first trips abroad as President is again in Greece.
This is the occasion for a very important event that is about art and culture: the inauguration of a very important art exhibition, held every five years in Germany, in Kassel. This time, Athens was also selected. And this is very important, because art and culture can express the feelings of the people, whether these feelings are pain, anxiety, expectation, hope. People always have feelings, our peoples have feelings, our relations have been disrupted in recent years, and culture and art, I think it may be the best bridge to bring back the thread of the relations of our peoples and our countries.
You know very well that the Greek people have spent a great seven-year adventure and I believe that the time has come to replace the feeling of anguish and pain with the feeling of hope. I think this should be the most important message at a time when we are facing challenges across Europe. We need to ensure the unity of Europe, but we must also ensure a better future for the peoples of Europe. And I am sure that from the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany you will continue to make tough efforts to this end. ”
In his statement, President Steinmeier said:
“Thank you very much, Prime Minister, for the friendly reception. Indeed, it has not been long since we sat together at this table. The big issue that has been of great interest to us was, of course, the European crisis at this time.
I must tell you that Europeans are now feeling that the stakes are much bigger in dealing with European problems after the decision to leave the UK last year. We are all asked to answer the open questions. And we have to learn again to speak positively about Europe and not to think that Europe is responsible for anything that is unpleasant in the Member States of the European Union.
I believe that the people in Europe are slowly realizing that this is Europe, which for 70 years has given them peace and stability, on a continent that has been agitated for centuries by wars and civil conflicts. Perhaps Britain’s retirement will make it clear to many that if we do anything to make Europe a player on the world stage, we will ensure that it does not become a game in the hands of other forces. Here, of course, are issues such as immigration and refugee issues, internal and external security issues, and, of course, issues of economic growth and employment.
Personally, I particularly appreciate the efforts made by Greece over the past years and I particularly appreciate the courage needed to implement the decisions. And I hope that the telegrams from [news] agencies from Malta that we read earlier are accurate, that is, that there has been agreement with Greece on the important elements.
My second visit here in Greece in a short time is, finally, a message that relations between our two countries are much wider than publicly debated. That is why I am pleased that we can discuss the cultural relations of our two countries. And tomorrow, we will inaugurate here in Athens the documenta14, which will certainly enable us to get to know the different viewpoint of artists for Greek-German relations. I am not sure that this will be a perspective that we will always like our politicians, but it will certainly be a fresh and challenging angle