Greek President Karolos Papoulias has stressed the importance of close exchanges between Greece and Germany and praised DW's work. In late 2014, DW will launch European Journal in Greek, to be broadcast by SKAI TV.
Papoulias worked in DW's Greek Department during the period of his country's military dictatorship. In 1964, DW started a radio program in Greek that remained one of the few sources of independent information until the fall of the regime seven years later. The broadcast reached millions of listeners on a daily basis.
During his meeting with DW Director General Peter Limbourg on April 3 in Athens, the Greek president expressed being moved deeply in reflecting on his time at Deutsche Welle. He described his engagement in favor of freedom and human rights during the rule by Greece's military dictatorship as equally important as his resistance to Nazism. Through his work at DW, he said he was able to get involved in the fight against the military junta's oppression of the Greek people. Popoulias praised DW's current reporting on the euro zone crisis for avoiding the hyperbole found in some German and Greek media coverage.
At a meeting with the President and Managing Director of the SKAI media company - Greek shipping entrepreneur Ioannis Alafouzos - DW Director General Limbourg discussed possibilities for expanding their collaboration, which has been in place since 2008. Both sides agreed SKAI TV would broadcast DW's European Journal TV magazine in Greek, which will go on air in late 2014. DW already presents Germany's views on key European topics live in a nightly news magazine at SKAI TV. Particularly since the beginning of the euro zone crisis, there's been significant demand in Greece for continuous explanation of Germany's position.
'Still a great need for clarification'
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of DW's Greek programming, Director General Limbourg said in Athens, "German-Greek relations have a long tradition, and a very close friendship exists between our peoples." However, he added, "There is still a great need for clarification," given the developments in their bilateral relationship since the outbreak of the European financial and economic crisis. There have been "excesses and irresponsible acts" from both sides, Limbourg continued. On the other hand, he noted that, "A stronger sense of rationality has again taken hold." Particularly in periods of heightened tensions, Limbourg believes journalists must ensure they do not become mere tools of political interests.
DW is "a living symbol of the relations between the two countries," Limbourg said, describing the broadcaster as a "bridge between Greece and Germany, between Athens and Berlin." And it's not a one-way street in Limbourg's view, "Thanks to its expertise on Greek affairs, DW sees itself as an institution that can also promote understanding of the country's situation in Germany." DW's Greek-language programming will continue to remain "very important."
Explaining Germany's positions
Every day, DW broadcasts a 10-minute news program in Greek at 1 pm. Around 40 local broadcasters in Greece and Cyprus receive the show by satellite and transmit it on FM stations. DW's premium partner has been SKAI 100.3 in Athens since 1990. As of 2001, the Greek broadcaster began featuring live telephone interviews with DW's Greek Department on an hourly basis. Additionally, DW cooperates with the largest Greek news portal in.gr and the Greek dailies "Agelioforos" in Thessaloniki and "Politis" in Nikosia. Both newspapers regularly publish commentaries from DW on key international topics.
Discussion of 'German-Greek misunderstandings'
To mark the 50th anniversary of its Greek Department, Deutsche Welle is hosting a roundtable discussion in Athens on April 4, titled "German-Greek Misunderstandings - Media and Politics in the Euro Crisis" and featuring high-profile participants. They include Chancellor Angela Merkel's delegate for Greek affairs, Hans Joachim Fuchtel, who also serves as the parliamentary state secretary to Germany's minister for economic cooperation and development; DW Director General Peter Limbourg; former Greek Foreign Minister and ex-mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis (a member of the Greek parliament); the chair of the opposition Syriza party, Dimitris Papadimoulis; and the publisher of the daily "TA NEA," Christos Memis.