Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel continued her very high-profile working visit to Athens on Friday with a meeting with the country's ceremonial head of state and the laying of a wreath before the Unknown Soldier monument in front of the Greece's Parliament.
In a statement during a meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Merkel said it was a "heartfelt issue to support Greece towards the benefit of both countries". Moreover, in a nod to lingering bitterness in the east Mediterranean country over Nazi Germany's devastating occupation of Greece during WWII (1941-44), along with its Axis partners Italy and Bulgaria, Merkel said Germany fully assumes responsibility for its history and the crimes committed in Greece by the Nazi regime.
However, she avoided any reference to possible war reparations and a return of a forced occupation "loan", essentially the central bank's looting immediately after the Wehrmacht entered Athens in 1941.
A day earlier, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras again referred to the issue of reparations and the occupation "loan" during a joint press conference with Merkel.
After her meeting with Pavlopoulos at the presidential mansion, Merkel will visit the German school of Athens and then hold a closely watched meeting with main opposition New Democracy (ND) party president Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the German ambassador's official residence.
The center-right leader's ND party is a member of the European grouping that also includes Merkel's ruling CDU. ND continues to field mostly double digit percentage-point leads over Tsipras' SYRIZA party in practically all mainstream opinion polls for the past two years.
A general election must be held in Greece no later than October 2019, with Tsipras and his coalition ministers repeating at every turn that they will serve their term to the very last day.