Low-Key This Time, Merkel Returning to Athens

FILE - In this Monday, June 29, 2015, file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media after a meeting with leaders of all parties represented in the German parliament about the crisis in Greece at the chancellery in Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Six years after 50,000 furious Greeks protested her visit, and 4 ½ years since a return was quieter and the anger mostly subsided, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to come back to Athens on Jan. 10, 2019.

The champion of austerity she demanded be put on Greeks to insure her country’s banks putting up the bulk of 326 billion euros ($371.74 billion) in three international bailouts would be repaid, Merkel had been demonized by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras before he needed her support and he changed sympathies.

Merkel, who recently handed over the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union, will meet Tsipras as well as major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Greece’s symbolic President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Sources which weren’t identified by Kathimerini said the trip is aimed at shoring up Tsipras following Greece’s Aug. 20 exit from the bailouts, with the Premier falling out of favor after hammering Greeks with more brutal measures he swore to reject.

It was also said likely she would back the anti-nationalist Tsipras’ deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to be called North Macedonia and lift Greek vetoes keeping the country out of NATO and opening European Union accession talks.

The implementation of a third rescue package in the tumultuous summer of 2015, this one for 86 billion euros ($98.1 billion) required Tsipras to break promises and bend to Merkel to get her support to help Greece and keep the country in the Eurozone he had denigrated.

Tsipras has twice traveled to Berlin to meet Merkel, including several months before seeking the third rescue package and has cozied up to her after he and SYRIZA had portrayed her as a political enemy of Greece.