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Greece

Greece's Samaras visits Berlin offering half-full glass

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has told Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin that his government is trying to win back credibility. Acknowledging a tough road ahead, the Greek leader also urged optimism.

The Greek prime minister said ahead of his Tuesday meeting with Angela Merkel that his government was working full tilt to recover its economy and rein in public debt. Nevertheless, Antonis Samaras said that he considered "the glass half-full," in light of the country's "enormous effort, which goes hand-in-hand with great sacrifice, to get things on the right track."

"We are trying to win back credibility," Samaras said, also saying that politicians in Athens were trying to combat the "scourge of unemployment, especially youth unemployment."

Almost one-in-four members of the Greek workforce are currently looking for a job, while more than 50 percent of those under 25 years of age are out of work. The figures reflect a broader eurozone trend, but Greece's unemployment rates are among the most severe in the currency union. Figures released on Tuesday pointed to record eurozone unemployment levels, with a total of 18.8 million people seeking work.

Conservative leaders Merkel and Samaras both used their New Year's addresses to warn the public of a difficult 2013, as eurozone governments continue to tackle high levels of sovereign debt and shaken investor confidence.

Merkel said prior to the closed-door meeting that she was looking forward to learning more details about Greece's continued efforts, with the leaders also scheduled to discuss wider measures for greater economic cooperation in the eurozone.

The German chancellor is not a popular figure among many in Greece. She is seen as the driving force behind demanding tough austerity measures in exchange for the emergency loans Athens has received from its international partners and the International Monetary Fund.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias met with his German counterpart Joachim Gauck in Berlin on Monday, with Gauck saying that true friendship was measured in times of crisis.

msh/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)