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Opinion

Opinion: Is the will gone?

Where there's a will, there's a way: German's Chancellor Merkel has replaced the proverb with her catchphrase, "If the euro fails, Europe fails" – which fits the situation better, says DW's Dagmar Engel.

Where is the most powerful woman in Europe at the beginning of the week of decisions? You certainly won't find her on the front pages of Greek newspapers. Angela Merkel has managed to evade being portrayed as an evil German wearing a spiked helmet or Nazi uniform, as she was in Greek media a few years ago, when the seemingly endless Greek debt drama reached one of many peaks.

The German chancellor sends clear signals: We, the Germans, and I, the head of the German government, are not the ones to determine the well-being of others. Germany is one of 28 EU nations, one of 19 in the eurozone. A single nation does not make the decisions in the European Union; they are made together.

At the beginning of this crucial week, Angela Merkel celebrates the 70th anniversary of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "Europe thrives on the ability to find compromises," said the chancellor in her speech to party members. And she spoke of the rules being respected, rules such as "solidarity and responsibility." The chancellor is convinced that if Germans betrayed their rules, they would be betraying their values.

Engel Dagmar Kommentarbild App

DW's Dagmar Engel

Last week, a certain German personality unexpectedly applauded Angela Merkel for the caution she exercised as a leader in the Greek crisis: Helmut Schmidt, a former German chancellor and Social Democrat. He said he was impressed, for normally, any time Germans showed leadership qualities, other nations would recall the Nazi era and turn against the Germans, but this was not the case with Merkel.

Schmidt is 97 years old and his age may justify his status as a wise old man with experience, but a lot has changed, as have expectations of Germany's role. Observers of world politics and world media look around and often find themselves asking: Where is Angela Merkel?

For the past year and a half, Germany's president, defense minister and foreign minister have been discussing how Germany should assume greater responsibility internationally. The notion is not popular. Angela Merkel was accordingly absent when the matter of her role in the world arose.

At the beginning of this week of decisions, Angela Merkel once again comes up with the sentence she does not fondly remember: If the euro fails, Europe fails. She has not defined the moment when the euro could be considered a failure nor if Greece has an impact. But it is a great catchphrase that deserves more exposure because it shows how Angela Merkel, the leader of EU's economically strongest and most populous country, is doing everything possible to prevent Europe from failing - together with her country's partners, but if need be, in a leadership role that is not necessarily likable.

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