After toying with the idea of a Greek exit from the euro zone in the first half of 2012, Merkel has come full circle and decided the risks of the country leaving are too high, especially with a German election looming next year.
The trip is a sign of German solidarity, a message to the Greek leadership and people that Berlin does not want to cut them loose, and a signal to the members of Merkel's coalition who want Greece out that it's not going to happen soon.
At the same time, the trip shows Merkel's trust in Samaras. Aides to the chancellor say they have been positively surprised by his commitment to reform. One reason for not visiting Greece before was frustration with progress under his predecessors, technocrat Lucas Papademos and Socialist George Papandreou.