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Germany's Merkel gets a hostile reception on Greek visit

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 12:32 pm

ATHENS, Greece – German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a hostile reception from many ordinary Greeks on Tuesday when she flew into Athens on her first visit to the country since its debt crisis erupted three years ago.

But she praised the current Greek government for covering "much of the ground" required for recovery.

"I hope and wish that Greece remains a member of the eurozone," Merkel said. "As partners, we are working hard to achieve that."

Her visit triggered protests attended by some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained nearly 200 people throughout the day.

As Europe's largest contributor to the bailout fund that has rescued Greece from bankruptcy, Germany is viewed by many Greeks as the primary enforcer of the austerity measures the Greek government enacted in exchange for emergency aid.

Merkel, who stopped in Athens for five hours, said the coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras still had to push through more key cost-cutting reforms.