Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras turned down an invitation by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Germany ahead of the European Council meeting in Bratislava.
According to government sources, Tsipras declined the invitation due to his prior engagements at the Thessaloniki International Fair, which opens this week. It was therefore decided that they should speak on the telephone before the Bratislava summit.
Although Tsipras’s participation at Thessaloniki International Fair has been long planned, his refusal to travel to Berlin raised questions in view of the Greek government’s expressed intentions to improve relations with Merkel.
In any case, Tsipras is determined to improve his government’s profile in the coming days and weeks, starting with Friday’s Euro-Mediterranean summit, which is to be attended by French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, among others. Tsipras aims to gain his fellow leaders’ support for an anti-austerity front, challenging Berlin’s rhetoric in favour of increased belt-tightening.
Ahead of the summit, Tsipras is scheduled to host a dinner on Thursday night for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Athens with talks focusing on the United Nations-mediated negotiations for a Cyprus peace deal.
It is expected that Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will issue a joint statement following their final scheduled meeting on September 14.