Greece’s Tsipras visits Germany amid argument over bonus

BERLIN (AP) — Greece’s prime minister said that he wants to help Greeks who have made “enormous sacrifices in the name of Europe” as he visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday amid an argument about a Christmas bonus payment for low-earning pensioners.

The bonus plan prompted creditors to suspend a new debt-relief deal reached only last week. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government insists it is not breaching the terms of its bailout deal, but European creditors say Athens should have sought clearance first.

Tsipras said he would brief Merkel about “the positive development of the Greek economy” during their meeting in Berlin.

“Our vision is that this development and this growth affects not just statistics or figures, but that the wounds of the crisis can be treated, can be overcome, and also (that growth) can be helpful to all those who have made enormous sacrifices in the name of Europe and in the name of European stability,” Tsipras said. He added that that will require patience and also “courageous decisions on the part of all European partners.”

He didn’t explicitly mention the bonus payment, though he said after a European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday that Germany was the only country to question it. He also didn’t address a pledge to restore a lower sales tax rate for Aegean Sea islanders who are struggling to cope with mass arrivals of migrants from Turkey.

Merkel said the two leaders would discuss the bailout program but “this isn’t the place where decisions will be made,” insisting that that’s a matter for the institutions overseeing the program and for EU finance ministers. Tsipras and Merkel took no questions.

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