| German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, October 18, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)
During this visit, Ms. Merkel is expected to encourage Greek politicians to support a name deal with Macedonia that Germany and the European Union hope will foster peace and stability in the Balkan region.
Under a recent agreement signed between Athens and Skopje, Macedonia will change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. The agreement provoked strong objections in Greece from those who say it implies a territorial claim on a northern Greek province of the same name. Germany considered the name agreement a diplomatic triumph that paves the way for Macedonia to join the European Union and NATO and limits Russia’s influence in the Balkans. Ms. Merkel on Friday is scheduled to meet Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of Greece’s conservative New Democracy party, which is leading in the polls and is opposed to the deal with Macedonia.