Press review: Germany divided over Greek bailout | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.04.2010
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Germany

Press review: Germany divided over Greek bailout

Germany is divided over whether the country should come to the rescue of Greece, whose economy is at risk of collapsing. Some blame the Merkel government for foot-dragging, others praise it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel's approach to the Greece crisis is under the microscope

Economic stability in Europe has eroded in recent weeks due to the Greek debt crisis. There are still fears the country could default because of the huge sums of money it owes to international creditors. This would be disastrous for the euro single currency and the 15 other countries that share it, and there is real concern the financial contagion could spread to other European countries with debt problems like Spain, Portugal and Italy. Germany, Europe's largest economy, now stands at a cross roads as it must be the engine behind any bailout. But inside Germany, many oppose any aid package for Greece, arguing that Germans cannot be expected to pay for the mistakes of a Greek government unable to curb corruption and handle its own finances.

The country's most read newspaper, Sueddeutscher Zeitung, raised questions over the German government's approach to the Greek crisis. In an editorial, the paper writes that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government was stuck in a state between apprehension and self-confidence. It said the government was gambling on the result of the upcoming election in the influential state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which could affect its domestic support at the federal level, as well as on the size and conditions of any aid package for Greece. The government should by no means approve any aid sight unseen, the paper continues, adding that Greece must implement sharp budget cuts with strict conditions attached. "This is the rightful price of the rescue."

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper, meanwhile, is more supportive. It writes that "Greek wine is not pure wine. To be honest, this emergency is too big. And so the German government has done well to doggedly push for a coupling of any aid with savings pledges." The daily adds that this is especially the case as no one can say how much cash Greece will need to save its economy or whether any of the money would ever be repaid.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had originally declined any aid package

The Berliner Morgenpost says it's not right to refer to Angela Merkel as a "Mrs No," adding that the only reason Germany hasn't given over billions of its tax euros as part of any aid deal was because Greece initially did not request any aid, merely political support. "Neither is the German government anti-European or nationalistic, but has remained pro-European," it writes in its editorial. "Germans feel this is not only about election tactics, but quite the opposite. This behavior is European and realistic."

The tabloid Bild daily was much more critical of the German government accusing it of withholding money from Germans and giving it straight to Greeks. "Supposedly we have no money for tax cuts, no money for school upgrades, no money to maintain parks, no money to fix our streets … but suddenly our politicians have billions of euros for the Greeks who have deceived Europe."

The Hamburger Morgenpost, meanwhile, writes that the Greek debt crisis is getting out of hand, and that the sum needed to save the country's economy is rising by the day - from 45 billion euros ($59 billion) a few weeks ago, to as much as 150 billion euros in the years to come. The newspaper accuses the Merkel government of stalling on any aid deal and, as a result, aggravating the crisis. "Now it is too late. Portugal is the next candidate to be saved," it writes, adding that Merkel was now in a catch-22 situation in which if she caves in and signs up to an aid package she'll be seen as a pushover, but if she blocks any relief deal for Greece she'll risk irking France and Southern Europe.

dfm/dpa

Editor: Rob Turner

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