(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) German Chancellor Angela Merkel defied angry protests during her six-hour visit to Greece, which was aimed at building confidence in Athens' efforts to reform its heavily indebted economy and allow the crisis-hit nation to remain a member of the eurozone, dpa reported.
But while Merkel sought to shore up the fragile coalition of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as it battles on with deeply unpopular reforms, her visit was also directed at a domestic German audience that has grown wary about bailing out troubled eurozone states.
With this in mind, Merkel hopes to head off the risk of Greece
being forced to exit the eurozone, or for that matter seeking additional aid from Europe, as she gears up for national elections due in September 2013.
'I would wish that Greece remains a member of the eurozone,'
Merkel declared at a joint press conference with Samaras, where she
praised Greece's efforts to clean up the nation's state finances.
'It will be a long way, but we will see light at the end of the tunnel,' she said.
For the chancellor, the trip to Greece represented stepping into the lion's den, with her visit held against the backdrop of a security clampdown in Athens, where more than 30,000 protesters took to the streets to protest her presence.
But there has been progress in Greece such as big reductions in the primary and current account deficit,' Merkel said.