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Blame it on the Germans

Gavin Hewitt | 09:35 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

French PM Francois Fillon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 10 Mar 10There is now frenetic activity to resolve the Greek debt crisis at the European summit this week.

The French and the Spanish would like a pre-summit summit where the 16 countries which use the euro would try and reach agreement. The IMF hovers in the wings waiting to be called on stage. The Germans see the IMF as the way out of the crisis. There are reports that the French are easing their opposition to help from the fund. Others say that Berlin is prepared to back a general aid mechanism, but only with stiffer sanctions for those who break the rules.

As the arguments have swirled and the frustration has grown so have the undercurrents of accusation.

My eye was drawn to a remark that may not have been said. Its interest lay in the fact that it was given any currency at all. In Le Monde, President Sarkozy was quoted as telling a friend, in reference to the Germans, "they haven't changed". The paper suggested he was referring to their "supposed imperialism".

It all sounds very fourth-hand but, in the past two weeks, as Germany has dug in its heels over bailing-out Greece, something strange has happened.

If you read many of the comments you would suppose that the problem was not Greece but Germany. The leaders of France, Italy and assorted European officials have all been putting the squeeze on Berlin, rather than on Athens.

The Germans and Angela Merkel, in particular, have been insisting that the eurozone live by its rules, which include no bail-outs. She has raised the possibility that in the future - and after a treaty change - that serial offenders are expelled from using the euro. She is quoted in Der Spiegel as saying that "countries which cheat in their public finances should help themselves". In some of the German media Merkel is being compared to Margaret Thatcher - another lady who was not for turning.

Paul Taylor, writing in the International Herald Tribune, says that "the Germans accepted monetary union in the 1990s on condition that the euro would be as strong as the mark, with low inflation, strict budget discipline and no bail-out for the weak". The Germans have been disciplined and have benefited from the euro, but they are not in the mood to help the Greeks.

It is this unwillingness to compromise that gnaws away at other European leaders.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said he was sure Angela Merkel was a "committed European" which, of course, was a way of telling her to prove it. The Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt accused the German leader of no longer wanting a European solution. The Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has piled on the pressure: "We have an institutional as well as a moral duty to intervene as far as is possible."

It is curious to know precisely what "moral duty" there is to help out those who bucked the system. What, of course, these statements are referring to is a higher European calling to back "solidarity" over all other considerations. The head of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, said "the euro is not a la carte. We enter the euro area to share a common destiny." It seems there are plenty of people in Germany who are less concerned with destiny and more focused on the health of their currency.

So the accusation is that Germany was once a consensually-minded European country - the good of Europe was always put first. Now critics see an economically-dominant country that will go it alone if necessary.

The Greek Deputy Prime Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, has accused Germany of making money out of Greece's misfortunes. "By speculating on Greek bonds at the expense of your friend and partner... some people are making money."

The Germans, so far, have resisted the big squeeze. Michael Meister, the spokesman for Merkel's parliamentary group, said "if France wants an agreement on aid for Greece at the summit then it should go it alone and supply aid itself and not expect Germany to do the same."

The Franco-German partnership has always been the key relationship in the European Union. I cannot remember - although I may be proved wrong - such a divide as exists at the moment.

Now it may be that some kind of mechanism to help Greece is agreed, but the EU has seen a tougher, more independently-minded Germany. Even if agreement is reached on short-term relief for Greece there is a wider problem with the euro. Many countries resent the fact that Germany is running a tight economy where growth comes from exports. Wages at home are kept down. Weak domestic demand makes it harder for countries to export there.

So the pressure will grow for Germany to loosen its policies and to defy its history. As one German professor put it, "it is part of the collective memory. Germans are for stability and austerity and not for deficit spending".

So a crisis that began in Greece has mutated to be about Germany and its commitment to Europe.

Comments

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  • 1. At 10:01am on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    The Germans are far more in the right than the others. At least as far as I can tell.

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  • 2. At 10:20am on 24 Mar 2010, EuroSider wrote:

    Gavin,

    There is no doubt that the Germans, the Chancellor in particular, are in support of Europe. The only question is at what cost. The EU was originally set up by a number of stable and controlled economies. They assumed that other countries would also have sufficient fiscal control to be to maintain a common currency.

    It is the expansion of the political-wing of the EU that is now causing problems.

    The more the EU expands to include other countries, the more this will create not only political difficulties but also economical ones.

    The current EU model cannot be sustained if lesser countries join it without also proving that they have the will to control their own economies. There may be a political 'pay-off' for joining the EU, but there is also a requirement for self-control; self-discipline and being honest about their own economies.

    It is easy to attack the Germans, but they at least have a clear view about the requirements needed to be a full member of the EU. Other countries do not appear to posess this vision. I doubt if Germany will go its own way. However I do think that some of the lesser countries currently in Europe will find the discipline required out-weighs the benefits (particular if it comes to social unrest within their own countries).

    It is those countries (PIIGS) that it will find it difficult to reconcile their membership of the EU with the needs of their voters.

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  • 3. At 10:29am on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    But this crisis was never about Greece! Who cares about Greece? They put plans and actions in place to cut their deficit their role is over now. This crisis has always been about the Euro. Can the Euro survive a crisis? That has been the question all alone.

    It looks like it may just survive a crisis when a country like Greece is in crisis, but what this crisis has shown is that there is no unity in the union, so either pull the whole thing down or push on with a real union.

    Every one except Merkel can see that the Euro is in crisis (Greece is just a sideshow) the rules that are in place now are not working.

    It is only logical to suppose that the problem is not Greece but Germany! The Greeks started the problem by breaking the rules but back in February they were told by the EU you have to do "x" they went away and did exactly that, now Merkel is the one that does a "Greek" and goes back on commitment made back in February, so from that point of view Merkel now is the problem not Papandreou/as?

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  • 4. At 10:29am on 24 Mar 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    I agree with Euprisoner -

    its absurd to ask Germany to be less competitive. They did their homework. Other's didn't. Tough luck.

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  • 5. At 10:45am on 24 Mar 2010, Tim wrote:

    Gavin Hewitt's analysis is just spot on. I'm really glad he focuses on the issues rather than writing about his shopping trips or restaurant meals and then try and shoe-horn the politics into it somehow like the previous guy used to.

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  • 6. At 10:58am on 24 Mar 2010, cg wrote:

    Greece has a responsibility to the rest of the eurozone, not vice versa. By adopting the euro as its currency, Greece committed itself to responsible behavior that would not threaten its fellow eurozone economies. Despite these commitments, they've been a largely irresponsible society, living beyond their means while, as citizens, refusing to pay much of their taxes yet expecting their government to provide the basis for much of their standard of living. The idea that Germany, having maintained their economy responsibly (and having already suffered much more than many economies from the irresponsibility of others, particularly the USA), is in any way in the wrong here is outrageous. The chorus of disapproval with Germany appears to consist of cynical and opportunistic attempts to savage the highly responsible Germany of today by unfairly and irrelevantly claiming a similarity with the "German imperialism" of the past, rather than really expressing anyone's legitimate point of view. It's an attempt to make the most responsible economy into some sort of scapegoat for the less responsible majority. That's offensive; an expectation that the Greeks do whatever is necessary to put their own house in order, after having themselves burned it down and in the process put their fellow EU states in jeopardy, is not.

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  • 7. At 11:02am on 24 Mar 2010, Paul Doulos wrote:

    Sure Greece has a serious economic problem, but to say that "you would suppose that the problem was not Greece but Germany" completely misses the point. What Greece's problem has done is bring to the fore inter country friction within the EU.
    Greece's problem remains, but more important will be how the different countries in the EU work together to deal with this problem.
    In the future, there will be other problems: foreign relations, foreign trade, immigration, etc. Can the countries of the EU work together to deal with these and other mutual problems without someone threatening to quit the Union???

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  • 8. At 11:08am on 24 Mar 2010, PaganBarbarian wrote:

    The Franks and German quarrel when someone is having a bad hair day. The Franks and Germans have a tiff when the weather is poor. The Franks and Germans disagree every time someone reads a newspaper. Life makes the Franks and Germans upset with each other.

    Mr. Hewitt is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, a tempest in a teapot, et cetera, in order to find a topic for a column he can sensationalize and report as controversial, in order to attract readers and sell more advertising, to increase the profits of the people who pay his salary. That is a columnist's job, and Mr. Hewitt is very slick and polished at it. In the meantime, the Franks and Germans will always irk each other, until the sun goes dark. The meaning and importance of their perpetual state of mutual annoyance is not newsworthy.

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  • 9. At 11:08am on 24 Mar 2010, Dempster wrote:

    I’ve posted this before, but still:

    Individuals can be allowed to fail, companies to, but not nations.

    The ECB will have to print more money and give it Greece, and then print some more and give it Spain and Portugal. The Irish won’t be happy though having already bitten the austerity bullet.

    It ceases to be a European Union if they let member states fail, it just becomes a European nonsense.

    No bailout = No Union
    No Union = No need for Euro Politicians

    What the ECB need is Magical Merlin King. That wily old goat can find a way round just about anything monetarily speaking.

    Mr King proved that a country that can print its own money can negotiate its way round a debt crisis.

    Mr Mugabe on the other hand, proved you can destroy a currency’s value if you become over zealous.

    I wonder how zealous Mr King’s planning to be this year?

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  • 10. At 11:10am on 24 Mar 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Apart from the net contributor EU nations the other countries from Germany that comprise the EU are like leeches. They suck the blood and vigor of from Germany but when Germany says enough-is-enough they scream like the babies they are.

    Without Germany and the financial might of Germany the EU is nothing and the PIIGs would flounder as would many of the economies to the east and south of Germany.

    All this does is show up the Euro for what it is, a weak currency derived from being created in good times that is without any strength because all too many of the user nations are all too willing to cheat (both before adoption of the currency and later when times get tough) on the essential rules needed to keep their economies and the Euro strong.

    If the Euro can survive this debacle, then it may have a future.

    Unfortunately as the babies throw their rattles out of the pram because Germany, for all the right reasons, demands further austerity from the Eurozone's weak economies and no compromises on what is in essence a currency stability pact, this furore starts to show the weaknesses in the European Union's characteristics.

    As solidarity in the Eurozone falters towards non-existence so the intrinsic economic differences in needs, aspirations and unity of the EU becomes all too transparent and the political cohesion weakens.

    I hope the Euro survives but I sincerely hope that the National Leaders that have so deceived the peoples of Europe with the false hopes of "ever closer union" realise that a Trading Bloc for Europe has far more chance of success than political union will ever deliver - if not because of the differences in national aspirations but simply because the nation states still have too strong a hold on the personal preference of individual citizens of the continent.

    And quite rightly so. I am English by parenthood, born of Scotland, British by nationality, European by location but I can never have allegiance to the European Union which is simply a political construct.

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  • 11. At 11:15am on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    Germany is undermining its natural position as leader of the EU and Eurozone by its stubborness to show a minimum level of eurozone solidarity. On the other hand, Greeks should be thankful for the shock, because it will teach them to be responsible and self-reliant instead of being a backwards and corrupt German province. 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' said a German once...

    As regards Theodoros Pangalos, the Greek Deputy Prime Minister, I think I can recall another kind phrase of his in the past: 'Germany is a giant with the brains of an infant'. I also seem to remember that he had to publicly apologise on all fours to Germany the day after. Nice to hear he is still around and has a blooming career.

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  • 12. At 11:20am on 24 Mar 2010, Blec wrote:

    @EuroSider: Everybody is talking about PIIGS (as if Ireland would have similarities to Souther Europe0. No one is talking about France: they have constantly broken Maastricht's treaty requirements (deficit lower than 3% anyone?)
    Frau Merkel wants tougher rules. What for? There are some tough rule in Maastricht treaty but they were never implemented when big countries like France or Italy broke the rules. There is a viability test for such rules: can and will they be applied to France too? If so, then they are OK. If not, they are useless.

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  • 13. At 11:20am on 24 Mar 2010, roberto salas wrote:

    I agree with the author that the problem is Greece, however it is not Greece's problem alone. The problem is of an EU administration which could not detect over many years that the figures presented by Greece were false. This is very difficult for me to believe. The other questions here goes even toward a more serious note that is when proposals were made to make the system more transparent, suddenly a lot of noise were made to set up an European IMF. It is obvious that there is a very serious cover up in Europe about what are the real figures no the fabricated ones that we are getting now. There is a great urgency to audit all European countries as to their real figures. There will be a few surprises.

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  • 14. At 11:27am on 24 Mar 2010, LondonLawman wrote:

    I think this is exactly why the UK did not join the Euro. You can trust the Germans to be honest when it comes to Govermental Policy / Monetary Policy, along with the Benlux and Scandavian countries. But who would really trust the Southern European countries!

    The French are a completely different kettle of fish, sign up for everything but then ignore the rules, issue European arrest warrents for bookmakers that are trying to get into the French market, free trade but oh no Paris has a monoploy on the Pari Mutual Tote thing, they should be the ones arrested.

    If I were Germany I would print loads of New Marks just in case. Imagine 1st Jan 20 and soon they declare new currency, set bench mark at 1 euro for 1 mark swap all German citizens accounts over on this basis. Months, weeks leading up to this they could Massively Short the Euro make Billions on the currencies exchanges as I would imagine the Euros value would collapse and then it would disintergrate!

    The most important think here is the Greeks cheated, avoid paying tax and want to sit on the sunny beach at 60 whilst a honest German has to labour in a cold factory or port in Hamburg. I am with the Germans on this one, they made there own troubles they can deal with the problems. They should be put on warning that if budget defeciet not brought within 3% that European Union will be inn charge of Greek budget tell it is agree to this or leave the Euro your choice.

    Sorry Ramblings of a Right Winger Euro Sceptic with no real understanding of the Markets but just said what I feel.

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  • 15. At 11:39am on 24 Mar 2010, yetanotherone wrote:

    Mr. Hewitt's article completely misses the point. It is also the latest in a long string of articles that come in defense of puritan, oh-so-righteous Germany and regurgitate tired stereotypes about shifty, unreliable and manipulative Greeks (see "Greek games", "Dancing around Greece" etc.).

    What Mr. Hewitt has completely failed to mention:
    (i) Greece is not asking for a bail out - it's not about handing out money - it is about *borrowing money*, in the eventuality that it needs it.
    (ii) The Greeks *have* taken drastic measures, and contrary to the BBC and the FT's campaign to portray them as intransigent, spoiled brats, polls suggest that the vast majority approves the measures. (If you don't believe me, check for yourself the complete dissonance in the news between the images of sparse, worn-out crowds from recent protests in Athens and the accompanying commentary that has you believe there is a mass revolt at work.)
    (iii) The Greeks may have started this, but at least they are trying to put things right. It's time for the EU to keep its part of the deal. How much more must a *whole country* be punished for the actions of a few? A more cynical observer would wonder how much of the European project is Merkel's government willing to sacrifice in order to win the upcoming elections.
    (iv) The whole point of a union *is* solidarity. The EU, a consensual association of states, is built on cohesion. Contrary to what is often insinuated in the press, it is not a case of Germans/Northerners paying vs Southerners receiving (often using the false analogy of welfare-dependents). Just as the EU coffers contributed substantially to the integration of Eastern Germany, southern countries such as Spain (and had it not being for the crisis others too before too long), are/were due to be net contributors to the budget. Rich countries are not rich forever and poor ones either. In sort the EU is hailed worldwide as the success that it is because, unlike NAFTA, it has, until now, reflected on the lessons of two world wars and sought to identify and solve *problems*, not shift blame on *nations*.

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  • 16. At 11:45am on 24 Mar 2010, KeepTheChange wrote:

    Merkel is in a fairly unfortunate situation right now. Agreeing to unconditionally help Greece at this point of time will cost her the next election. Up to 90 % of Germans are against a bailout of Greece and expect her to stand firm and say NO. Thus, she will rather cause some discomfort among the other EU members and try as long as possible to delay any talks about a rescue plan for Greece. This might not even be too bad since it will send a strong message to other member states who are steering into their own financial troubles. Germany can't afford to play the paymaster of everybody in Europe. All member countries have the obligation to put in more efforts to industrialize their nations and to increase their export. This message did not sink in so far and some members of the eurozone have relied too much on payouts from Brussels. It is about time for a wake-up call.

    Nonetheless, I am convinced that Germany will eventually do the inevitable and draw the cheque book when nothing else works.

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  • 17. At 11:50am on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    @6,

    Both Greece & Germany are equaly responsible for causing the Euro distress.

    Greece initially with its irresponsible policies and then followed by Germany with its irresponsible politics.

    The rest of us in the EU are the victims of those two countries' mistakes. You are living in a fools paradise if you believe Merkel is not be blamed.

    Also what is obvious is the Euro is still in danger and Merkel saying "Oh, I wished we didn't have a problem" is no a solution to a problem! The Euro rules are not working. The Euro as an idea is perfect but the rules need to be fixed a bit. closer monitoring of every countries economic policy and what impact that policy has on the other Euro members is required.

    About living beyond means etc. that only serves as a newspaper headline to sell copies. If everyone consumed only what he or she made, then there would not be any trade and there would be any need for the EU as a whole. Everyone by default consumes more than they produce and then hope that through wages or profits they will get the money to pay for what they consumed.

    So please both Germans & Greeks spare me complains about how you both are the innocent victims here. The Germans spare how perfect their system is where every one pays their taxes and they don't have corruption NOT. Siemens, Daimler, etc. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8584158.stm

    buying bank account details of its citizens from Swiss bank ex employees doesn't make it look like they all pay their taxes!!:))

    and the Greeks how its all the markets fault.

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  • 18. At 11:54am on 24 Mar 2010, metagrafx wrote:

    One thing needs to be remembered, the downturn we are seeing is unique in that it really is a challenge to whether capitalism can deliver as high a standard of living as people assumed in the last 30 years.

    The real question therefore is this. Is this flavour of capitalism typical of the USA and the UK less so in France and Germany, able to deliver real welfare and prosperity for most people. It seems that the growth most countries were experiencing in the last 30 years, was roughly 50% based on huge indebtedness.

    Although the greek finances were a joke, british finances are not much better, right now the British government is getting faster into debt than the greek government so... The USA is not much better, and this is a global problem that needs a serious re-evaluation of some cherished notions...

    What has worked in the past does not necessarily work in the future.

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  • 19. At 12:05pm on 24 Mar 2010, Baars wrote:

    Even if Germany decides to cave in and provide a bail-out to Greece (and possibly other countries), this would only be a temporary solution. Greece is dealing with an insolvency crisis. Future bail-outs will effectively be subsidies, not loans. Furthermore, they will have to be much larger than the proposed 30 billion.

    It's a real predicament. Germany wants a devalued Euro to improve its exports, debtor EU members a strong Euro to help pay off debts denominated in foreign currencies (e.g. USD or yen)

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  • 20. At 12:08pm on 24 Mar 2010, JohnKonrad wrote:

    Have we all missed something? In any country, with any currency, if there is no effective solvency and control, then people will lose confidence in the currency and use another. So, IMHO, we all need Central Bankers that act in the best interests of their people. Whether the EU (Council, Commission and Parliament) can ensure that, with the support (and consent) of national parliaments remains to be seen.

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  • 21. At 12:10pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:

    Greece is not a person. It is a country of 11m people who are currently been penalised due to the actions of 10-20 useless politicians. And contrary the Germans' favourite stereotype, no, not every person in Greece is a tax evader. Quite the opposite, most people work longer hours especially in the private sector for little money.
    Every country has bad politicians. Does anyone remember an EU country that recently defied both the EU and the UN by entering a preemptive war? I do.
    Anyway, I am personally getting fed up with this situation and I wish we could leave both the euro and the EU. I remember life being much easier before the euro, everything was cheaper and our exports were higher. In addition, being in the EU has not improved our national security, which was one of the key reasons we entered. Proof is that Greece has been spending enormous amounts of money on defense equipment (most of it made in Deutschland) during all these years, and Turkish fighter jets and battleships have been violating our borders every day, without even receiving a warning from Brussels.
    Last but not least, illegal immigration has flooded our country which is the entry point for almost everyone wishing to enter Europe, thanks to our coast line and position. Again, no assistance from the club to defend our so called "common borders".
    The hell with it I say..
    And to those of you who about to attack your keyboards to accuse me of enjoying EU money during all these years, blah blah blah, well guess what...I haven't. I am not a politician, I do not own a construction company and the road outside my house is still a pot-hole paradise, so spare me the rhetoric. Cheers

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  • 22. At 12:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    Gavin,
    What I missed to understand clearly is what your personnel assessment is of the present situation. You are listening closely to the first alarming chinks of the French/German waterproof stuff; you registered /with good reason/ that the Greece crisis has been gradually transformed into a Germany issue for the simple reason that the German fiscal contribution to the EU is the largest one; you are watching attentively for any comment that would be whispered from some top EU- official or member state highly ranked official (You see, I deliberately use the expression “member state” instead of the preferred by you and by many other Brits idiom “nation state”), and finally, you have come to the conclusion that many EU- leaders favoured some kind of solidarity in helping those who break the rules and that Germany was the bad guy /as they thought/ by refusing to pay for other players’ faults.
    Well, your intentions seem to be honest and fair, but I dare ask you where is old Britain in this mess? How do you think the Brits will escape whatever contribution to some kind of rescue plan that is aimed at saving both the Euro and of the whole EU? Or, you will cite me again what Gordon Brown said several weeks ago, namely, that “the problem concerns the euro zone”/I do not recollect his exact words, but the meaning is the same/?
    And last but not least, I think it is high time to reconsider the Lisbon treaty in its fiscal chapters in order to stipulate clearly and definitely all the conditions of treating such unpleasant and dangerous for the mere existence of EU cases.
    I dare say that the Germans are right to raise this discussion. Other leaders may consider the Greek issue like a signal to lose even more the fiscal discipline much to the disappointment and the well founded indignation of the remaining member states.
    Maybe some bloggers here will hastily accuse me intervening as a former German “krieg kamerad”. It’s their problem.
    Sofia, March 24th 2010

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  • 23. At 12:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    Can Greece just go the IMF already, I wan't to wind Marcus up about stealing US Dollars $$$'s again.


    The fact that Germany is getting attacked at all is ridiculous, Greece broke the rules, Greece needs the shock therapy. Rub there noses in the dirt, send them to the IMF and let it be a lesson in what happens when you break the rules.

    Stricter rules can be set up, harsher punishments created and an EMF established, and the Euro and the EU can come out stronger.

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  • 24. At 12:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #12,

    Yes Ireland has many similarities to Southern Europe. It is called a HUGE debt!

    But you are right to point also the finger at the larger countries because right now the only country that meets the Euro criteria is Luxemburg. Everyone else should get kicked off of the Euro. As for repeat offenders that Germany keeps asking to get kicked off the Euro, then both France & Germany are right there at the front of the queue.

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  • 25. At 12:23pm on 24 Mar 2010, greece2000 wrote:

    Broke? Buy a few warships, France tells Greece

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62M1Q520100323

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  • 26. At 12:34pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    No no no ... I have repeatedly said that:

    1) Greece has a problem of state functioning that is long rooted and absolutely well known to everyone, back in 1978 as well as back in 2000. Hearing "we did not know" and "Greece was cheating and now should pay", from Germans can only bring laughter. If they think Greeks are responsible for having lied and cheated, then what is their responsibility for pretending not to know?

    2) Out of space! Greece is hardly the 3% of the EU economy. The current crisis is not at all about Greece. Whoever believes here that giving Greece an EU loan (i.e. nobody spoke of free money! loans!) at 3% and not at crushing 6% is difficult because some US private institutions said it should be at 6%, is the whole problem that we talk for months now in Europe is really really out of space.

    I am sorry but you have to realise the truth. Greece was corrupted before joining the EU and its corruption 10pled in EU - that should tell you something. Germans profited from Greeks years now - that is how Greeks found themselves in the eurozone - and now they have the nerve to tell the French "you want to support them you pay".

    You should realise that if every country turns to the Germans it is not that they are the biggest contributors: any EU scheme plan will equally involve France and UK. If anyone turns to them it is because

    1) it is them that largely profited of the sick situation of Greece so many years now
    2) it is them that got Greece into the eurozone
    3) it is them that want to kick out Greece and send it to IMF cos they speculated in it

    Watch out. Papandreou's aim is exactly the same right here! Actually he does what exactly Gemany wants - both Merkel and Papandreou (righ and left no matter) represent right now the US-affiliated side of EU.

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  • 27. At 12:36pm on 24 Mar 2010, greece2000 wrote:

    Relax guys. Diplomacy, international relations and politics are much more complicated than our childish approach(es).
    It's more than just like 'you cheat we won't play you again'.
    They knew everything about spending in the Eurozone and they would have let it keep on hadn't the American born crisis hit Europe.
    It's about business and money. Nobody is suddenly so concerned about ordinary Germans' welfare. It's about the rich becoming richer (again)

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  • 28. At 12:52pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @yetanotherone:

    'it is about *borrowing money*, in the eventuality that it needs it'. In the eventuality? Greece needs to re-finance its public debt now with better terms than the market wants to give or it will go bust in early 2011. And how will it do that, pray? By getting state loans from its partners at lower rates. Therefore, Greece asks other member-states for loans so that she doesn't go bankrupt.

    'The Greeks *have* taken drastic measures'. No, they haven't. They haven't fired any of their 1,200,000 public servants, they are still trying to find out which public servants are twice or thrice in the payrolls (sic!), and they haven't collected anything from the hundreds of thousands of public debtors.

    What the Greek government has done so far is to increase VAT to 21%, corporate tax to 40% and individual tax to 45%, so that the internal market has frozen and investors are already leaving the country for Bulgaria, Cyprus and other members of the Eurozone. In fact, Greece has been shooting itself in the foot and waits for Germany to step in and save her. If Germany does not, expect an unemployment rate of 30% in the months to come and see what drastic measures really look like.

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  • 29. At 12:54pm on 24 Mar 2010, stelios wrote:

    Greece should never have entered the monetary union and adopt the euro. Its economy has always been frail and the rate euro/drachmae (1euro=340.75 drs.) not representative of the relative power of the greek economy vis a vis the majority of the european economies. This has led to heavy spending and as a consequence overborrowing by the public sector which the public finances already burdened by very high operational costs (wages, etc.), were not able to deal with successfully. As a result the economy despite the high growth rates enjoyed up to 2006,lost its momentum and it is now very difficult to pick up, because of low productivity and inability to adapt to the challenges of a new economy. So the people must sacrifice part of their gains of the past and this cannot be easily accepted by most.
    Therefore financial help by the E.U. could be the only way but with stringent control of public expenditure that is almost strange to the way the state sector functions.

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  • 30. At 1:11pm on 24 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    ". The Germans have been disciplined"

    That is not true. The Germans along with the French insisted on the Growth and Stability pact in Maastict as a way to keep government spending within reasonable limits so that deficits would not exceed 3% of GDP. But when France and Germany were by far the most flagrant violators of it and consistently didn't meet their targets year after year, they did what they always do, they threw their high minded principles out the window and "persuaded" the EU Court that the Pact was "obsolete." They were forgiven the billions in fines they should have paid and effectively endorsed G&S as a toothless goal rather than a rule that would be strongly enforced. That's when they showed their true colors. And if they persuaded the EU court the same way we've learned in revelations about how French and German companies like Daimler, EADS, and Siemens "persuaded" their customers to buy their products, that ran true to form also.

    So now the finger pointing begins. Acrimony wll replace feigned optomism and nebulous platitudes. And now American money intended for the world's poor and desperate will be drawn on to bail out a corrupt not so badly off nation instead because its "partners" won't. Will the Europeans who control it ease the restrictions they would impose on other non European recipients of IMF money for pan European political reasons? If they do, is there any reason why the US taxpayer should continue to subsidize one more European run organization that has been corrupted?

    The real culprits are the people who conceived of and built the absurdity of the EU and the Euro. And to think, just after she was elected Angela Merckel tried to persuade President Bush to join the EU. What a laugh. The party is over. How fortunate Germany does not have an effective military or this could have led to a war of bullets instead of a war of words. Clucking hens pecking at each other in the same cage.

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  • 31. At 1:13pm on 24 Mar 2010, Tree wrote:

    I'm in agreement with Germany's stance on the Euro. It was set up as a conglomerate currency, based on the principle that every EU member-state that was to use it had a stable economy, hence why the UK was also invited to join. Now that it faces a potentially long line of issues, it needs to start getting tough on nations that have mismanaged their economy, and this means, unfortunately, getting tough on Greece.

    The ECB and the IMF could potentially help Greece out, and it could potentially do them a favour, but what would it really solve? If they bailed out Greece, then they would have to bail out every other Euro country that ends up in such dire straights, else they would cry foul play. Therefore, by standing firm and telling the Greek government to help themselves, it stops governments from abusing the system that they created.

    Cheating the system/Bending the rules to ensure you keep winning isn't the answer, because it means that you never learn from your mistakes. This is what the countries that aren't in agreement with Germany need to bear in mind. If France and Greece actually looked at the logic behind it, then they'd see that Germany's stance is better for the long-term sustainability of the Euro, as opposed to using the short-term idea of just adding a couple of zeros onto the budget or "borrowing" from the ECB/IMF. If Greece can't hack it, then they should be left to their own devices until they can sort themselves out. Then, when the other Euro countries deem the country's economy as solvent enough to rejoin, then they can come straight back into it.

    Call it hardline, call it whatever you'd like, but as government leaders of a country, they really should know better.

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  • 32. At 1:25pm on 24 Mar 2010, ElEnfadado wrote:

    Mrs. Merkel castigates Greece for breaking the Maastricht Rules - but Germany is also breaking the same rules. Apparently LUX is the only 'country' which is Maastricht-legal.

    Sure, Greece's debt is a big problem, but nothing comparable to the debts of the US or Japan - whose debts are now so huge they are effectively unpayable. Ever.

    Global debt is now so entrenched and the means to undo it so impossible one wonders why we bother to continue to discuss it. Rather like the weather: we love to debate it but can do absolutely nothing about it.

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  • 33. At 1:32pm on 24 Mar 2010, Genti wrote:

    I have read a few comments and also the article, I think the situation is more complex that choosing this way or the other one (bail it out or not). In line is the unity of the union and that shall be tackled with care if Europe wants to gain internationally and internally. As a case study we can take the United states. Although I don't blame Germany at all, I personally suggest in order to preserve and nurture the union, the best solution would be to send Germans to keep account of Greece's public finances, if they contribute to their bail out.

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  • 34. At 1:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, Robin wrote:

    The French - German relationship is not about to break as is being suggested. As mentioned above this is indeed making a "mountain out of a molehill". The French - German relationship is what makes the whole EU possible. If that breaks the EU might as well fall apart...

    As for those getting on Germany's back. Get back off it. They are on the moral high-ground and everyone else can just go and queue at the local job center if every time a country cheats they expect Germany to bail out the country. Because whilst it is nice of the likes of Italy to question Germany's solidarity, it is at the end of the day the Germans who will be giving the loan guarantees not the Italians.

    What people don't seem to get is that for the last 15 years, as the German economy has been struggling to get to grips with the globalised economy, the average German standard of living has probably gone down. The same cannot be said for countries like Greece. Well, it is now clear that the reason for this is that they cheat. End of story. Why should people who have accepted the need for restraint pay for those who don't accept it. Call in the IMF and let the Greeks see what restraint really means. And those claiming not all Greeks are corrupt and it is only a few policitians. It doesn't matter. They voted in their government - they now sort out the mess their government got them into. Fact is they ignored the mess as well. Probably because they all wanted to live the dream of ever growing credits being a sustainable situation.

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  • 35. At 1:48pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dragan wrote:

    Greeks should start selling their islands to the Turks. If that isn't enough to make up for their debts, then take Greece out of the Eurozone and give it to the Turks. Problem solved.

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  • 36. At 1:49pm on 24 Mar 2010, LondonLawman wrote:

    Yeah Greece stop buying weapons if you do not have the intention of using them to protect your borders from Turkish planes or Battleships?

    UK is not in the Euro because we want to at least keep our ecconmic soverignty! I would not pay 1 pence / or cent out to help Greece or any other Euro country myself! Do you expect Poland and the other Eastern Europeans not in the Euro to help the Greeks out, I think not.

    You cannot have Ecconmic Union without Political Union. Small steps need to be taken not sweeping treaties.

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  • 37. At 2:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    The best solution is to dissolve the Eurozone. But the only solutions one hears from the EU-crowd is 'more integration'. But that is not a surprise, because I believe they set the whole thing up like this deliberately. They knew there would be a 'crisis' somewhere down the road, and knew that this 'crisis' would be the opportunity to further the cause of integration, hoping that the very existance of a 'crisis' would weaken the opposition.

    And frankly, I don't see why we (Netherlands) would have to help Greece, because of some vague idea of 'solidarity'? I think not, solidarity in the EU is a word only used by those who would be on the receiving end of 'solidarity'. And did anyone else notice that the net recipient countries have a majority, both in absolute votes (20-7) and in QMV votes? I can assure you this is not a coincidence. And did y'all also notice that the biggest cheerleaders of bailouts (apart from the EU-crowd) are Italy, Spain and Portugal?

    And of course, France. Because a substantial portion of Greek debt is to French banks. People who study the history of ECSC/EEC/EU know that France is never in favor of big policies unless said policy benefits France somehow. If it does not, France will either block or ignore.

    And the last thing I caught today, is that real deficit of Greece is somewhat higher than the stated 12,7% and in reality is above 16%. German economist Hans-Werner Sinn said so in a TV-interview. The measures taken so far by Greece are not nearly sufficient, the retirement age should be raised to at least 65 and a purge should take place in the public sector, it is so large in Greece to be absolutely unsustainable.

    Of course, Greece could always default, like Argentina did a few years ago. Argentina is now better off because of it. But of course, tbe bankers (and thus the French) have no interest in that, it is the banker nightmare. But France out of reasons of selfishness and misplaced national pride doesn't want that because it wants Germany to cover the Greek debts to French banks.

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  • 38. At 2:16pm on 24 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Has the German government instituted new regulations that require greater accountability of the banks and restricted the use of the instruments that caused the financial collapse? The major banks should be instructed to allocate a percentage of the bailout funds to lend to Greece. It is amazing that the banks that caused all the problems sit on the side lines like vultures waiting to pick the bones of each country suffering from the actions of the banks. Like the rats that brought the plague to Europe.

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  • 39. At 2:18pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    To everyone here please tell me what mechanisms are in place for the Euro in order to cope in a crisis?

    If anyone knows please tell us all. I for once would like to know.

    All other speculation suggested here are very hypothetical and totaly irrelavent to how does the Euro cope in a crisis?

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  • 40. At 2:25pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #28
    @g_rizzly

    "What the Greek government has done so far is to increase VAT to 21%, corporate tax to 40% and individual tax to 45%"

    Are the above numbers a fact or imagination? Can any Greeks here confirm that?

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  • 41. At 2:26pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dimitris wrote:

    To christophergill:

    You forget or don't want to see that these irresponsible people who were spending beyond their means are not just the Greeks but also the French, the Germans, the British etc. Greece has become the bad kid on the block because it's easy for the Media. I lived across Europe for years and have seen that irresponsible societies are everywhere. However in Greece there have been a few catastrophic years for the economy and the current Prime Minister was brave enough to accept and expose everything. The price he pays for that honesty is the Media attacks to his country and the "irresponsible" comments of a lot of people.

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  • 42. At 2:28pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    Those who wish for other countries to bail out Greece, you should fear getting what you asked for, Berlusconi is so enthusiastic in favor of it and Italian figures are arguably worse than Greek ones (because of Italy's size) that they too are counting on a bailout.

    The Italian government suggested a few years ago that the countries that had saved up a lot of money in private pension funds (apart from the public pension, to which a private pension is an addition) should show some 'solidarity' and share that around too. In other words, UK, Netherlands and to a lesser degree Germany should pay again.

    'Solidarity' will bring us northeners down to a 'weighted average' situation which is something very few people here in Netherlands are in favor of, probably less than 5%. Why should I work to 67 years old when a Greek retires at 55-59 and why should I then share around what I have saved in my own private pension with people in countries that didn't save anything at all. I am most categorically not willing to do so.

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  • 43. At 2:30pm on 24 Mar 2010, yetanotherone wrote:

    @g_rizzly

    It *is* about borrowing money. The mere presence of a guarantee will enable Greece to obtain funds at better rates in the market, without resorting to loans from the EU. The key word in the previous sentence is *loans*, i.e. money that is eventually returned. The bailout of a single German building society (Hypo Real Estate) cost the German tax payer several times what it *may* cost, not Germany but the EU, to re-finance Greek debt. See the irony there?

    As for the measures not being drastic enough, you clearly have a different understanding of both what is 'harsh' and on the need for punishment. In my book successive salary cuts and vat increases do sound harsh. But it is democratic politics we are talking about here, not Lutheran moral sentiment. There are constitutional limits on firing any one of Greece's 700,000 public servants (not 1.2m as you incorrectly allege) and Greece is not unique in that regard. By committing to hire only 1 for every 5 people retiring the Greek government is effectively doing the best it can within legal limits.

    @LondonLawman

    Your comments border on racism - for you the issue boils down to 'unchangeable' characteristics of people and you would rather be in the company of 'honest' nordics and other 'whites' (Icelandic banks anyone? have you read anything about Daimler, Siemens and German swiss bank accounts on the news), rather than associate yourself with dark-skinned Mediterranean miscreants. It is funny how a crisis really brings up to the surface the true inner-self, and uncovers the hypocrisy of political correctness.

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  • 44. At 2:31pm on 24 Mar 2010, rgar wrote:

    Of course Greece IS asking for a bailout, it wants soft loans - if it wanted loans on the markets' terms, then Greece would just borrow from the markets, end of story. The truth is the sky won't fall if Greece is abandoned to the tender mercies of the IMF and the markets. Why is Italy so keen on a bailout for Greece? Because they're the next to go cap in hand asking for a bailout? Actually, Germany cannot afford to bail out Greece for a very simple reason - if they bail them out, then the rest of the PIIGS will queue up for a bailout, whereas abandoning Greece just might scare them into getting their act together, as countries like Chile and Brazil, which do not receive EU subsidies, have done. Germany has no moral responsibility to help Greece; they've been effectively paying reparations for WWII via EU subsidies for decades and most Germans were born after the war; Germany doesn't control Greek fiscal policy and the Germans didn't elect Greek governments. Ordinary Greeks may not be the prime culprits for Greece's fiscal woes, but neither are ordinary Germans. The French position is contemptible; if they're so keen on helping Greece, what stops them from buying Greek bonds? But then the Germans wouldn't be the ones footing the bill.

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  • 45. At 2:34pm on 24 Mar 2010, tridiv wrote:

    So Sarkozy was referring to "supposed imperialism" of Germany, was he? This may cater to a small cliche of Anglophone readers (German basing is still in vogue in some quarters), but completely irrelevant to the subject of the article. Your conclusion that this crisis muted into "Germany's commitment to Europe" is far fetched and ridiculous. I would risk the statement that most EU citizens regard Germany as a responsible member and this fact gives them confidence in Europe.

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  • 46. At 2:47pm on 24 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    I don't blame "it" on the Germans, and this blame-game may be a distraction from some very serious financial reality.
    EU Solidarity is the answer.
    There is some good news: there is a team from Brussels which will analyze, identify problem debt and advise Greece on how to fix its finances. The leader of the team is a EU heavy-weight, none other than former Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia (EU's newly-appointed competition chief).
    Joaquín Almunia is demanding frequent reports from Athens - both for progress purposes and detailed analysis.
    Leaders of EU states agreed that Athens should be left to its own devices, but evidently the EU has found renewed interest. The EU has moved this week to intervene to fix Greece's fiscal mess because it wants to track - guess what - credit default swaps and other derivative instruments.
    The bottom line: The EU will not abandon Greece.
    What does the EU really fear - the spread into European countries of Lehman Brothers delayed effects.
    Almunia's main goal is to stop euro speculation on the financial markets. The commissioner said that the EU has sufficient instruments at its disposal to solve Greece's problems. He didn't provide any concrete details, but his words (Brussels' words) were sufficient to give the markets the hope that they needed.
    On one thing you can rest assured, the IMF will never be part of any EU solution - NEVER.
    Brussels cannot simply decree an immediate shrinking of the Greek deficit below 3 percent. Greece's problems are deep and it will take time to figure them out. It's not as simple as looking at a balance sheet.
    Brussels now faces the question: How did Greece get into this position?
    Answer: Credit default swaps (CDS) and other derivatives are back like cancer, inspiring panic in the bond market and making it harder for Greece to borrow money. Already struggling to rein in its out-of-control deficit, credit default swaps could be enough to push the debt-ridden nation into default. Credit default swaps are credit derivative contracts that let banks and hedge funds place bets on whether or not a company (in this case a country), will default. However, one of the biggest problems with CDS contracts is that their holders have an incentive to push companies as well as countries into bankruptcy.
    The Markit Group of London last year introduced the iTraxx SovX Western Europe index - an index based on CDS that let traders gamble on Greece. The iTraxx SovX Western Europe index, which represents an unweighted average of the credit default swap (CDS) was spread over 15 sovereign issuers. It has traded at a record high of above 90 basis points.
    A major contributor to the index’s rise to record levels was the sharp increase in the cost of default insurance needed for the Greek sovereign debt.
    However, in recent days the cost of default protection has also risen sharply in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.
    So Brussels will be busy; it has sharp legal minds. I expect court cases to follow; court cases are beginning to pop up here, there and everywhere...but Greece will take time because it is a country and it's not just a matter of adding up a balance sheet.
    Are speculators deliberately trying to promote panic and drive Greece to default as a means of collecting on their CDS investments: I have no doubt. Likely Brussels has no doubt. Why not ask Joaquín Almunia?
    Here's just one interesting fact:
    Trading in credit-default swaps linked to Greek debt has seen insurance on the Greek debt hitting $85B this February, compared to just $38B one year ago. What's going on with that?

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  • 47. At 2:49pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nicholas wrote:

    I agree to many points made here about Greece and its inability/weakness to control its economy and people. Taking this aside, Germany must also realise that it is a member of a Union.

    An important point to consider is what does Germany import from other European Nations? Whoever says that it has not greatly benefited from the Eurozone would be inaccruate. In addition, why not check how much money Greece spends into the German economy. Buying weapons and planes alone accounts for a huge portion.

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  • 48. At 2:55pm on 24 Mar 2010, bobby50h wrote:

    Yes Germans are right.. According to their rules. That is all Germany has are rules, rules and more rules. God forbid you stumble just a bit out of the thin straight line (rules) they created. On a stopover in Germany I made a mistake and went to the wrong exit at the airport. The customs confiscated the 2 Crown Royals I had as gifts because I would not pay the 100% tax. They would not give it back even though I went back in to the international part of the terminal.

    Is Greece in bad shape? You bet it is. Did Greece make efforts to make it right? Yes. So what's the hold up now with Germany.

    Perhaps its Germany who should leave the EU

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  • 49. At 3:03pm on 24 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    Well done Angie! People who enter this currency - enter into an agreement to abide by the rules. Greece "fudged" the figures in order to gain entry and now this. Germany is not in the wrong - but when people start talking about European support it is usually the Germans and a handful of others that foot the bill.

    I think Germans are quite rightly fed-up - after all how much European money did they receive for unification - not a lot. They do run an export economy - well wakey wakey perhaps the others ought to be taking lessons there - not criticising. There is a certain amount of control the French, Spanish etc have over their economy´s mix - all the Germans are asking is for people to be responsible - what is wrong with that.

    Germany has been particularly hit by this recession - precisely because it is an export economy. They have their own problems - when Germans have to subsidise the profligate whilst they are busy making cuts and savings (this is often at a personal level) people quite rightly say it is not fair.

    Germany has the largest population in Europe, but this is not translated into European votes. A country like Poland has far more votes per head of population. So a polish vote at the ballot-box is worth more than a Germans - again not fair.

    I know the Germans have a messed-up history - but they´ve paid for this in every which way but how. It is about time the rest of Europe stopped using them as a punchbag and actually begin to use them as a role model!

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  • 50. At 3:05pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #31

    If they are forced out why would they (or anyone else for that matter) bother getting back in the Euro? What's in it for them? Can't you see the non-logical statement that you are making here?

    what you are saying is: "if you have a problem been part of the Euro will not help you, the Euro-club is useless" not a very good advert for the Euro.

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  • 51. At 3:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #37. At 2:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    I support them to declare bankrupcy and I also wished our government here in the UK last year didn't get us into so much debt to bail-out the banks. Also the Icesave depositors I can't see why we had to bail them out. But here we all are.

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  • 52. At 3:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    In cases of such level (which is not even the highest) there is always a "parallel reality".

    - Greece a "corrupted country" of "lazy workers" in statistics arrive ahead US, UK, Germany, France and the bulk of western and near-western world in working peoples' in both nominal & real working hours.
    - Greeks work most hours, yet their salaries are low making their per hour payment equal to 3rd world countries.
    - Greeks work much more than others yet their productivity is low.
    - Greeks productivity is low yet, their average educational level is very high.
    - Greeks are seen as inflexible, public-position-chasing, opinionfull, underachivers, yet internationally they are prized as being ressourceful, opinionful, autonomous, flexible and very intelligent.
    - Greeks are seen as public-sector lovers that are afraid of taking risks, yet - due to lack of large companies - they have the largest % of self-employed peple in EU (and perhaps even in relation to US) and rank very high worldwide, implying these people are ressourcefull in order to survive.
    - Greeks'low productivity has absolutely no relation with their low salaries for the simple reason that the market is small, non linear, easily controlled
    - Greek market seems to get more and more inflexible and expensive as more and more "international competition" enters it.
    - If Greeks may increase their productivity, yet that will not guarantee more investments and more market development as foreign investors in Greece historically have been mainly the profiteering rogue investors, thus as a side effect, this will lead to more unemployment and a further fall in their income!
    - Greek economy was on the rise up to relatively recently yet that was not followed by a general rise in the salaries apart certain "priviledged" sectors and positions: real salaries of the 80% of employees increased moderetly, or remained the same when prices of 80% of the market 3pled (not doubled, tripled in the span of 15 years).
    - Greece has one of the lowest GDPs in EU yet, Athens is the capital of Europe that has most of Porche Cayennes sold
    - Greece is on average a highly educated and cultured country yet, Athens is the capital of Europe that has most of Porche Cayennes sold (haha!)

    So see, even if talking about Greeks only, the paradoxes are never ending.

    What does that mean? It means that a linear approach is downright useless. I remember one of you had mentioned it. I will repeat it again.

    Libear politics and linear finance and linear statistics do not apply to Greece a country that is neither socialist or capitalist, not a small island nation, not any large densely populated country, certainly not underdeveloped, not anymore developing, not fully developed. It is simply a small cornershop in the corner of Europe whose small economy depends on a random choice of 3-4 little things, a small competitiveless sector of agriculture & a seasonal summer tourism. It is run by 10-20 families who in their effort to remain in their positions take orders from abroad or the opposite, it is powerful nations that have placed them there in the first place to follow their order and in exchange them enjoy local supremacy(you want examples to believe this? I can become very graphic but do not know if I can pass BBC censorship).

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  • 53. At 3:23pm on 24 Mar 2010, Robin wrote:

    #38

    "It is amazing that the banks that caused all the problems sit on the side lines like vultures waiting to pick the bones of each country suffering from the actions of the banks."

    Whilst the banks had their part to play, not all countries are in the same trouble as Greece. Greece brought this crises on itself by LYING about the state of its finances. End of story. They deserve no help from anyone entity. They should go to the IMF and be treated like a bankrupt country like Argentina or Bulgaria (in the late 90s). I live in Bulgaria now and the devastating effects of the "IMF treatment" are everywhere to be seen. But they've learned their lesson (for now...). I see no reason why Greece should not endure the same.

    Ask a Bulgarian pensioner what it feels like to live off 50 Eur a month!

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  • 54. At 3:24pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @mvr512: the answer to your question is, of course, much more depth to national economies, the Netherlands being one of those economies benefiting more. And, secondly, Greece does not need money - she needs a controlled shock on all fronts in order to welcome structural changes; and technical assistance in order to implement the required (and much delayed) social and economic reforms. That's what solidarity is about, not giving away euros 'like wealthy men who care not how they give'.

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  • 55. At 3:24pm on 24 Mar 2010, newageoracle wrote:

    Germany has been the main prop for the Euro. As the most industrious and fiscally responsible European nation, it is Germany's economic strength that has given credibility for the artificial currency that is the Euro, but it is now becoming revealed as a sticky label for a mish mash of disparate economies that were admitted to the Eurozone under false pretences for political reasons. The growth of the Eurozone was a purely political ambition. The essential economic disciplines on aspiring members were set aside and enlargement was rushed through so that long serving Euro politicians could still be in office when the big dream came true. The architects have now departed, chickens are coming home to roost and Germany is being asked to pick up the bill. If I was German, I would want my government to let the Euro go bust rather than have all my country's hard work be given away for nothing.

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  • 56. At 3:27pm on 24 Mar 2010, WCoastConservative wrote:

    Greece is in debt but Germany is rich, therefore Germany is morally obligated to pay off Greece's debts? That's just not sustainable long-term.

    Only by collective austerity and societal transformation (read: less corruption) can Greece recover. Germany should do what it can, but it can't do everything.

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  • 57. At 3:29pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:


    I love the way some contributors stick to the catchy part of the story: "The Greeks cheated".
    Especially those from Germanic countries, famous for their obsession with discipline and punishment...I am sure they are really enjoying having an opportunity to have a go at those "lazy southerners".
    They have been waiting for this since Greece managed to stage successful Olympics back in 2004, proving their rants wrong. I still remember the sarcastic publications and the videos (the Dutch really loved those) before the games.
    Nevermind that Greece is not the only indebted country in the club, or that the same "tools" used by the Government to hide part of the debt have been widely used by almost half the EU countries in the past, OR that the same EU countries that look down on Greece now knew exactly what was going on but they had no reason to blow the whistle as long as money from exports was coming in...
    Bailout or not and regardless what happens to Greece, the bottom line of this crisis is that nothing has changed in Europe during the last 50 years. Countries still hate each other and it only takes a scratch in the surface to reveal that we are light-years away from having any form of "common European identity".
    Oops...it's 2pm already! Time to leave the office and go to the beach, drink some Ouzo and spend some German money.

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  • 58. At 3:30pm on 24 Mar 2010, Blec wrote:

    @LondonLawman Yes, I do expect Poland and other Eastern European countries to help Greece. Just because they really understand the value of EU and realize they just cannot go alone. UK doesn't realize that; most of you guys act as if the British Empire is still alive an kicking. (Your best friends, US, managed to weaken it after WW I and destroy if after WW II.)
    On the other hand, Greeks have cheated and they should pay. But I sense ze Germans went a bit too far on that; whoever is surprised by the facts is lying. Everybody knew the Greek books were cooked.

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  • 59. At 3:36pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:

    "35. At 1:48pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dragan wrote:

    Greeks should start selling their islands to the Turks. If that isn't enough to make up for their debts, then take Greece out of the Eurozone and give it to the Turks. Problem solved."


    Wow...it can write!

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  • 60. At 3:41pm on 24 Mar 2010, Manos Bairaktaris wrote:

    As a Greek, I feel very much offended about all this discussion. Nobody seems to understand that Greece does not seek help. Just not to make money out of our misery.
    It's unfair for our country to get loans in Euro with an interest rate of 6.5%. When Germany gets it money with 2.0% they can make a 4.5% profit out of thin air.
    The Greek government doesn't ask for "free money". Just the right to get its loans with sensible terms. In other words, we don't ask other European countries to give us money; not even to not make money out of our misery. Just don't make HUGE profit. That greed will not only hurt Greece, but the whole EU (not only Eurogroup).
    In Germany, Greeks are portraid as lazy Zorbas who have fun with european money. Just think if that is possible... Use your own mind...
    If Greece is in this position, it's due to corrupted officials who have cheated against the Greek taxpayers. And if we trace who has bribed those officials, we could find the other side of the culprits.

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  • 61. At 3:43pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:

    # 34 Robin

    "And those claiming not all Greeks are corrupt and it is only a few politicians. It doesn't matter. They voted in their government"

    So, using the same logic, should I not feel sorry for the 50 people who died in London bombings in 2003? After all, the Brits DID vote for Tony Blair (the man who dragged the UK into a pre-emptive war) twice, right?
    (to avoid confusion: I DID feel very sorry, I'm just making a point here)

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  • 62. At 3:46pm on 24 Mar 2010, evdaypanos wrote:

    PEOPLE OF EUROPE: Remember that the Euro has been the final act on making Greece or any other EUROZONE country the same as a German state.

    Greece = Portugal = Italy = Malta = ... = Bavaria = [any other German State]

    Is this the wet dream of any exporter country or not?

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  • 63. At 3:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    I don't know about my fellow Europeans, but personally, I am getting really tired of those lame excuses.

    "The Greeks should not have cooked their books? Hah - the other member states should have known the books were cooked!"

    Ever heard of that thing called responsibility? I mean, seriously, is Greece a nation of infants unable to understand the simplest of economic cause and effect? Do they not see there is a nexus between pretending to be fit to join the Euro and being unsuccessful in the Eurozone? Did anyone force them to join the Euro?

    Are we talking to adults here or are they just a nation of children?

    "Germany profited by exporting their goods to Greece"

    That makes Germany complicit in Greece's fraud? To quote Adam Smith: "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it." The Germans did not force the Greeks to buy their goods. They would have exported them elsewhere or would have produced less if the Greeks had not bought them. Those children carry on as if the Germans should be particularly grateful the Greeks bought their stuff. Really? Did the Greeks not get anything in return? Could the Germans be expected to realise that the Greeks were busy ruining their own economy and the money they were paying the goods with was not theirs?

    "The Germans wanted the Greeks to become slaves to the IMF from the start."

    Honestly, they ARE children, aren't they? Germany forced Greece into the Euro to force it back out again, to the forcve it into IMF slavery? The whole idea is so pathetic, outrageous and preposterous that it precludes any appropriate commenting. I conclude with three factors which I think brought about the current crisis -

    1.) The Euro itself - the whole idea seemed unnecessary from the start. One of the main advantages Europe had over other common markets was the possibility to micro-manage interest rates from country to country, from region to region, as it were.

    2.) Greek culture. This is going to read as if I am trying to put down a country, which I am not. But it cannot be denied that a country where corruption is ubiquitous and vertually everybody is bribed for services the taxman never finds out about will be short on taxpayers money. That, combined with a ridiculously low pension age and waste on all fronts (orphans whose parents were civil servants get a state pension for the rest of their lives), should make clear one thing - a country with that kind of stuff going on should never be expected to be a prosperous nation. Blame World War 2, the Germans, the Albanians, Macedonians, Turks all you like.

    3.) The global crisis. This is really something that was out of reach for anyone to do anything about. The economic crisis started in America, first with Enron and then, through the course of the decade, more and more American companies turned out to be facades of enterprises that did not even exist. Lehman brothers was the latest big example, but what we are seeing here is a real domino effect. America's economic power is a charade, there is nothing there. America does not produce anymore and so it has become addicted to war. It has to coerce other countries to buy the worthless American bonds, which each time brings about the temporary illusion of recovery. Nobody can be blamed for that, not the Greeks, not the Germans or French, not the Americans. But the Greeks are now going to bear the full brunt of having trusted an economic system that was all prestidigitation and illusion.

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  • 64. At 3:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    No, I do not agree that Germans are in support of Europe but I would say that they are in support of Germany. The European Union has been created in order to unite and as every union it did involve certain risks and obligations. IMF has been also created to benefit the structure and as the article states: "the Germans accepted monetary union in the 1990s on condition that the euro would be as strong as the mark, with low inflation, strict budget discipline and no bail-out for the weak". How do they look now and how can you say that they are in support of Germany?
    It reminds me about the wars in the past because when everything was good, there were people ready to help and make commitments such as: we will come and help in the case of the attack, although when the war started, nobody remembered about their words.

    Germany reminds me about the USA. After the attack on the September, 11, the American President was saying: our world and our safety but when it came to the profits it was America and American people. The same happened when white person came from Europe to the South America. They came with the Bible to teach about a new religion, they received food and a shelter but later they left with gold and slaves and as a gift, they left the Bible.
    Don’t you see that the history repeats? And I will tell you more, if certain countries such as Germany do not realise that we do need to support each others, why? September 15, 2008 should tell you why, the history will repeat again and we will whether walk hungry or commit a suicide from the lack of solutions.

    As the previously mentioned September, 15 showed us. We may have borders and speak different languages but we all depend from each others. The collapsing company on the other side of the world started the biggest recession in the history. Many people lost jobs and many struggle today all over the world. What if we listen to Germany and let not a single unit, not a company but the country go down? What if we turn our back at our European friends and forget about them? Do you really think that because you write from Chile, USA, Australia, South Africa or Germany this problem is not yours? Well, if you have thought so until now, I have to tell you my friend, the day Greece goes down, we will all go down because we all invest abroad and we all have an interest.

    That was the commercial part, now something for ordinary human beings.
    Before my country became a part of the European Union and people were not sure whether to take this risk/ challenge or not to, I put my heart and soul in many projects in order to convince them that this structure is our structure, it is for rich and poor people, for corporate and regular citizens, it is to make our life better, to never
    let us be uncertain about tomorrow because as a single unit, we are not able to do much but as a united structure we can. I have always believed in the EU and I made many people to believe as well but after reading the comments of people such as Angela Merkel, I feel that my faith and trust in this international project has decreased.

    If you are a European citizen, take 5 min to read news and start thinking straight! Many countries are getting stronger around the world and try to rebuild the recent economical disaster. Do you really think that even a country such as the UK, Germany or France can compete with the USA, China or Russia? Well, no, they cannot. I will even tell you more. Did you know that the Latin America is planning to set a union as well? Now you know and now you can open your eyes and think! We are nothing and only as a “team” can make something so yes, I do agree with the title of this article and I think that there are many sentences said/ written by very intelligent people who understand well what I am talking about.

    My message to all the Germans: It is not a mistake to love your country but it is a big weakness to turn your back at another nation. It is very bad to think in a selfish way as you have thought so far. You, as a country made an offer to buy Greek territory and when your offer has been rejected, you decided not to help. Isn’t your country big enough that as previously, during the war, you want others land? You call yourself a strong country so get up there to the borders of the Acropolis and help! Stop talking and prove me, as well as millions, that you do care about others because one day when another crisis comes to your door, when you get lost in your own problems and try to look for the solutions, all what you may see will be our backs...

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  • 65. At 3:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    "Just as the EU coffers contributed substantially to the integration of Eastern Germany"

    Well that is where you are wrong - the Germans had to agree raised taxes in order to finance their reunification. In addition Eastern Germans had to agree to receive 80 per cent of their pay. The Germans largely paid for the entire reconstruction of former DDR and continue to do so. So stop attributing credit where it is not due! Instead of evaluating a new enlarged Germany, taking into account the low incomes, spent economy etc of the former DDR, the EU evaluated this new population as affluent BDR Germans. So Germans really did have to pay for their reunification - into the coffers of the EU.

    In addition for all those extra people (ex-DDR) did it result in a commensurate number of new votes - hell no!

    The European contribution to other former soviet-bloc countries were generous though as were their voting rights. As for the piles of money being thrown at new European states. It was easy for Blair to push through early entry of Rumania - GB wasn´t so keen on paying for the reconstruction of that country though. Instead Britain had been enjoying a rebate (even during the boom years). So for all Blair´s high and mighty diplomacy - it has actually been Germany, the Dutch etc who´ve had to foot the bill for European expansion - not the Brits, Spanish, Irish, Portuguese etc! So stop biting the hand that feeds you - and don´t complain when they say "enough is enough"!

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  • 66. At 3:57pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    To those who say guarantees would cost us (Netherlands, Germany) nothing: not true. If someone who can borrow at 4% has to give guarantees to someone who has to borrow at 10% so that one can borrow at 7% instead, it means the guarantor who previously borrowed at 4% will now have to pay 5%.

    If I had no debts and good income, I could borrow more cheaply than my profligate spending neighbour, but if I had to 'guarantee' his loans too, you can bet I would have to pay higher percentage. So it would cost me, if I gave guarantees.

    47. At 2:49pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nicholas wrote: I agree to many points made here about Greece and its inability/weakness to control its economy and people. Taking this aside, Germany must also realise that it is a member of a Union.

    Germany is a member of a 'Union'. So? Does it mean that a few members can defraud for years because being part of a 'Union' means someone else will pick up the tab?

    And I take inspiration from Barack Obama to answer those who say we really cannot let the Eurozone fail, I say: Yes we can!

    I repeat, let Greece default, just screw the bankers and the speculators. Everyone wins (apart from speculators but no one likes them anyway). More and more economists say default is the best option.

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  • 67. At 4:07pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    EUprisoner209456731, are you from Germany?

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  • 68. At 4:09pm on 24 Mar 2010, paddyjones wrote:

    I completely agree with Merkel , there should be no bailout, call in the IMF. Europe is like a family with a few members out of control, why should the more resonsible ones help the delinquents. In Ireland we have a population of 4 million with a debt of 140 billion, in Greece they have a population of 11 million with 300 billion debt. The IMF will be in Ireland within 2 years and they are welcome because the politicans we have can't run the country responsibly. All over Europe debt is a huge problem sovergein , corporate and personal and this will cripple our economies for decades to come.

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  • 69. At 4:10pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @chrisarta:
    In co-ordination with the Commission, VAT was raised from 19% to 21% on March 15; petrol and gas taxes were also raised.

    The new taxation bill was presented at the Greek Parliament today. Personal income is taxed at 38% at 40,000 euros, 40% at 60,000 euros and 45% at 100,000 euros. All kinds of dividends are taxed as personal income; 40% is withheld immediately upon distribution and the difference is debited or credited when the personal tax return is filed the following year. Tax advance is at 50% for individuals and 80% for corporations, if I am not completely mistaken.

    @yetanotherone:
    The key word here is 'returned'. If Greece eventually defaults, nothing will be 'returned'. If the risk of 'no return' was low, Greece would be borrowing from the markets already, wouldn't she? As regards irony, the creditor cannot dictate terms to his borrower, not even expect a loan as a matter of course. As regards the number of public servants, the total estimation (including fringe public bodies and local authorities) is over 1 million. Furthermore, firing Greek civil servants is a political problem, not a constitutional one. Any Greek civil servant can be fired if his organic post is abolished by law (with the exception of judges, and they are not technically civil servants). The excessive number of public servants is the tombstone of the Greek nation and the Greek government (this or the next one), will eventually have to drink that bitter cup one way or another. I am not talking in terms of punishment here, I never have. I take for granted that there is a genuine interest in this debate to help Greece out. More money in the pot of the Danaids, i.e. the Greek public sector, is not the answer.

    Finally, I am not convinced about the recent Greek government's decision to buy 6 frigates from France and Papanikolis, the defective submarine that Greece has refused to receive and pay to Thyssen-Krupp for several years now. There is also talk for Eurofighter buys these days. Greece should not be bribing Germany and France into an EU loan. She should be reducing military expenses and even reduce her airspace down to 6 n.m. as Turkey wants. By getting rid of those 4 extra n.m., Greece will get rid of Turkish airspace violations and the associated heavy air and maritime patrolling and intercepting costs (incl. fuel, craft maintainance, and personnel costs). When at need, people (and states) should use their brains, not extend their palm to other people for charity...




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  • 70. At 4:13pm on 24 Mar 2010, Shilpy wrote:

    If EU can't handle the Greece situation, wait until after it brings in Turkey.

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  • 71. At 4:20pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    By the way, am I correct in my assumption that the EU treaties prohibit direct financial support? If so, we should all insist the EU treaties be applied rigorously. I and most dutch didn't want the Lisbon Treaty, but now that it is there we are not gonna just let them 'circumvent the rules' like clown Barroso suggested earlier last week. The EU-ites wanted 'Lisbon' so now they should play by its rules. Or amend the treaties first and give us a nice round of ratifications, which this time will not be devoid of referendums like the last one was. Oh the fun we have!

    I trust that the Germans who brought the case to Germany's constitutional court will immediately challenge the legality of any aid, and I do believe this situation may well be that Merkel is aware of it and that is the very reason she suddenly stopped caring what 'Brussels' thinks and starts caring what 'Germany' thinks. Which is what she was elected for in the first place.

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  • 72. At 4:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, retiredlarnacayorkie wrote:

    I agree with the germans,why should they and others bankroll a corrupt country,its being going on for years fiddling the books.I live in cyprus and quite happy here but its the same here if you want something doing quickly its a backhander required and cyprus is now struggling through being greedy ripping holidaymakers off,now they are not coming

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  • 73. At 4:27pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    Greece needs to drop out of the euro now. It should not take part in Germany's S&M exercise by taking on loans at rates it can't pay back. It needs to go to the IMF and talk about restructuring debt. This will likely lead to it getting booted out of the Eurozone, but it's the only answer.

    Germany's idea that Greece should get help at market rates will only sink Greece further, and in the end no good will come of it for Greece. One might argue that Greece made its bed so now, beyond taking the bitter medicine of slashing its social safety net and putting citizens into poverty, it should also behave as a penitent by condemning its unborn children into a couple decades of servitude. I'd say, reject that vision. Restructure debt. Let German banks deal with the fallout. Greece's name is already mud, and mud is mud. Mud can't get muddier than mud.

    Servitude plus backroom deals to purchase billions of German military hardware in exchange for support is not what Greece should do. It makes no sense. And for what? European solidarity? Greece is a tourist, agricultural and shipping nation, and that's not going to change anytime soon. So do better at what you do well already, and forget the rest. Forget the huge defense budget that pumps billions into Germany's economy. Buy Fiat Unos from Italy. You don't need Mercedes. Go back to your wholesome Greek diet of fish, olive oil and vegetables, and let the big European countries have the Eurozone they really really want. Your name will be mud, but that's the past. At least you can look your fellow citizen in the eye and hold your head up high.

    Provided of course that you totally restructure your government and use this crisis to your benefit.

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  • 74. At 4:31pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    About Greece's duplicity, people are just repeating what other journalists have reported. No one goes back and looks at the European statistic service. Greece was already at 100% debt to GDP in 2005. So, the fact that they are up to 115% now during a recession when the economy is contracting and when interest rates on loans are rising--this should surprise no one. Way too much is being made of Greek mendacity. The numbers are there and they are baldly stating--as soon as 2005--that Greece was headed for this problem. The new gov't didn't pop the news. In fact, the change from 7% annual deficit to 12.7% is simply a matter of 12 billion more Euro tacked onto the debt. That's only 200 euro a year per capita for 5 years. hardly enough to sink the Euro. All this fuss for that? Please. And conniving to get into the currency? At the time, even Germany had broken the annual deficit rules (as had other countries) and they were running above 6% annual deficit. Greece hid debt? And so did every other country. Germany securitized $50 billion worth of state assets just two years ago, and this doesn't show up a a German debt, while the Goldman Sachs deal with Greece was worth $1 billion. Let's restate this again. The SGP requires that you stay under 3% annual budget deficit (and not even Germany has managed to stay under it in the recent past). But what good is that when you're running 100% debt to GDP? There is no provision in the SGP for debt to GDP. So all this talk about Greek lies is a useful twaddle, but useful for what and who.? If it's really over $12 billion, then something much bigger is going on (like, countries taking advantage of a "scandal" to lower the euro and boost exports without the USA crying foul).

    Greece's problem is corruption and tax evasion and dysfunctional bureaucracy. That's for them to solve. But let's not pretend that Europe was unaware or that this just blew up overnight. To imply that this creative accounting game isn't being played around Europe or that no one knew what the Greeks were up to--well, that's not true. It is anything but. Go ahead, go look at the statistics. Greece was at 100% debt to GDP in 2005, and it never recovered.

    The Goldman deal was known by Eurostat, reported in many publications, listed on the NBG's website under "Titlos SA" because NBG bought the swaps from Goldman after GS did the deal with Greece.

    A lot of the financial media deliberately distorts the story so that people lose the big picture: deflation, austerity, INCREASED corporate profits.

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  • 75. At 4:32pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    And, one more thing: During the crisis last year, Merkel blamed the USA and said she would not add funds to the kitty for continental bank bailouts. That was the first navel-gazing German utterance to open eyes. Meanwhile, the USA sent $20+ billion to Germany, even to German state-owned banks like KfW which had wired Lehman Brothers $300 million a mere hour before it collapsed.

    So, I can understand that Germany hates bailouts, but it certainly doesn't hate hypocrites.

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  • 76. At 4:36pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    For Nicholas, #47. You are correct, as the following article shows.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62M1Q520100323?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a49:g43:r1:c0.347826:b32137154:z0

    What does it say about Germany's noted disgust with Greek profligacy that Greece be forced to buy billions in military hardware from Germany before it signs off on helping Greece?

    Greece is a bad bet but let's put them into more debt so German exporters can profit.

    This shows you how these countries are interrelated, the relationship of Greek debt to German exports, the relationship of Greek indebtedness to German surpluses.

    Germany, the country that had a foot on its neck in the interwar period, has forgotten what it means to screw things up badly yourself and then to be punished for it with onerous provisions. The world (err, the USA) did not make that mistake with Germany in the postwar period, and this is why Germany is where it is today.

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  • 77. At 4:37pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan wrote:

    Of course the Greeks should blame it on the Germans. If Germany did not get any benefits out of this whole mess, it would have been the first country to step out of the Eurozone. In reality, only Germany has a grip on Euro, and it gains the most out of it. Germany knew very well that Greece was cooking the books before the entering the eurozone, most likely helped them in the process as well.
    After a decade with the Euro, Greece looks better on paper, the GDP per capita went up almost 3 times. Nonetheless, the population is actually poorer, because the living costs went up 3 times as well, and the salaries did not follow the same trend. Yes, imports are much cheaper now, but everyday costs are much bigger. Housing costs went through the roof this decade.
    Germany on the other hand managed to become the middleman in every major transaction in EU. For instance, half of Europe buys Russian natural gas from Germany instead of buying it directly from Gazprom. In fact, they are involved in the energy transactions of every small country in EU.
    You certainly heard these days how successful is Germany in terms of exports (the largest exporting country in the world). But have you ever asked yourself what Germany is exporting so successfully? It's the middleman 'services' for other EU countries that make up half of the German exports and 15% of the German economy. How will Germany's budget deficit look like if the EU middleman business would evaporate someday?
    IMO Southern EU countries should step out of Eurozone and devise a common currency but independent of the Euro. The economic interests of North and South are too divergent at this point for a common EU currency to be sustainable. Sure Germany will threaten, cry, then threaten some more, but Germany needs an adjustment to the real economy outside of its confort zone in EU, where it can pull all the strings.

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  • 78. At 4:48pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    But if it is to fall on Greece's paradox... how about Germany's one?

    Germany the steam... sorry the diesel engine of EU, the column of the EU house, Merkel the Poseidon-dressed gladiator who fights in the arena of corruption aiming with her net to catch all corrupted Aris-dressed showmen blinded by the head protection their EU-made corinthian helmets gave them, then with her trident to push them back onto the fire and there threatening to burn them if they do not comply - the result depends on Ceasar's (Marcus daddy) mood so the Samnite and to a lesser extend to other European bystanders.

    what can I say...?

    Well, some of you did not believe us saying about Germany funding local Greek corruption, did not pay attention to the case of SIEMENS which might not be even the flagship of Germanohellenic financial scandals...

    So, what do I read in BBC this afternoon? Take this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8584158.stm

    Between 1998-2000 Mercedes seems to have been on a bribing spree!

    """... the US Justice Department has accused the company of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 governments. They are alleged to include China, Russia, Egypt and Greece..."""

    Wow! Next to China (1,3 billion, 2nd economy in the world), Russia (1st more powerful army, 2nd most powerful nation in the world, biggest state), Egypt (strategic country of nearly 80 million people?)... the article did not forget to add little Greece - well thank you very much, its an honour for us!

    And the question remains:

    Ok, bribe in China I can imagine its the largest markt, same in Russia where Mercedes has a huge very lucrative market.... but bribe in Greece?
    Greece only imports Mercedes and occasionally makes a final assembly of Mercedes jeeps for the Greek army, an old partnership that long predates 1998 which for Mercedes is simply said an infinitesimally small affair.

    So just put this in the context... if Mercedes bribes in such a market like the Greek, the guys really are into tihs up to their necks!!! In fact it is the way they move.

    Now, one could say that "all these countries are corrupt anyway"... well sadly it is not so much that as the fact that in Germany or France Mercedes has lower needs to bribe as it knows the market by heart, the market has been shaped largely by them, laws work for them, and they know how to move on, while in other countries with more volatile and less standardised markets Mercedes feels the need to control the market by bribing.

    22 countries... I mean the guys must had a bribing department or something. And bribe in China, Russia... bribe in Greece? You understand that if the US department accuses them of such, the bribes are extensive for these countries: it is not at all, any random low-level bribing, or the endemic low level post-agreement "presents" given for saying "thank you, we look forward to a good collaboration" which is present in all countries anyway. This has to be important or even serious bribing. So why Mercedes bribes in Greece? Rich Greeks are always faithful to German cars and Mercedes is a standard value so no real need there to bribe anyone. I can imagine only in the case of jeeps or a similar market. Still in such a marginal market that long predates 1998, their readiness to "show 'em the money" implies they indeed have a bribing department and indeed have bribes as their bread & butter: they bribe you for breakfast, they bribe you quicker than you can get them!

    Here is the catch! Mercedes is a large manufacturer but of a product of consumption:
    So what is going on in other sectors like the construction, energy, telecoms and military???? What should we imagine????

    Athens 2004 Olympic games given to Athens with 1 vote difference from second candidate city - last vote in favour of Greece, Germany!!!! Yeah right!

    Projects with initial budgets of the style "trust us, we know, it costs 400 million EU puts 200, you put 200 its ok! What? You believe it costs more? Take the 50 millions of the 200 millions on the side and spread among "your men" to shut up, and sign". Project ending in 800 millions (and sometimes even more!!!), with Greek state paying 650 millions (i.e. in that they include their own bribes...) most ending directly in the pockets of the undertaker, i.e. in Greece's case, mainly the Germans.

    Anyway, my tragicomical approach is not aimed at German people. I am not implying that they are more corrupted (than anyone else), or that they give birth to corruption. It is just that their guys are part of it up to the neck. I only repeated above facts and statistics. But this is to underline yet once more to all those who think it is easy to bash a country and its people like that "lazy", "corrupted" refusing to see what is really going on. I am sorry but me too if I could sit down, do nothing in life other than talking and meeting people and money raining on me in millions, I would not even discuss it, Siemens, Mercedes, whatever they want... why would I care? And why work with General Elecric or Peugeot if they bribe less? The job will be done about the same, it will cost more but Greece will get loans so as to fill the Gemans' order lists so... everyone is happy...

    ... yeap! And it would continue like that unless Americans decided to strike now and aleviate a bit the pressure in their currency.

    At least now you know why Athens is the first capital in Europe with Porche Cayenne...

    PS: in the last years, Greeks bought more Porche Cayennes than Mercedes ML!!! Tragic!

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  • 79. At 4:52pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    64. At 3:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, Magda wrote: If you are a European citizen, take 5 min to read news and start thinking straight! Many countries are getting stronger around the world and try to rebuild the recent economical disaster. Do you really think that even a country such as the UK, Germany or France can compete with the USA, China or Russia? Well, no, they cannot. I will even tell you more. Did you know that the Latin America is planning to set a union as well?

    So? We should accept the anti-democratic EU and its unwanted diktats just because of your idea of 'bogeymen' in the rest of the world? I'm not willing to sacrifice democracy in order to have a shoddy and worthless construction like the EU.

    And I am particularly looking forward to seeing this 'Latin American union' as soon as Chavez starts demanding Colombia pay for Venezuela's internal policies. My prediction: not gonna happen.

    It's not Germany that's not showing 'solidarity', its the countries like Greece who blatantly failed to live up to their end of the bargain and now expect others to pay for that.
    But as Hewitt writes, the EU-elites are trying their usual 'ambush/encircle' strategy again. They do so by trying to make it seem that whoever 'holds out against what the EU wants' is the bad guy and is 'isolated in its position'. This is what the EU always does when it wants a country to do something the country's population doesn't want.

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  • 80. At 4:59pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Coming in at contribution no. 77 I can see that no one, and that includes Mr. Hewitt, has yet mentioned the court in Karlsruhe. Once again I must conclude that no one here seems to understand the factors implicated.

    The German boulevard paper, Bild Zeitung, has today a photo montage showing chancellor Merkel and a translation of "no" in all languages of the union. It speaks for the opinion of many Germans, but it does not amount to a prediction of the outcome. Germany has interests in the union, political and economic interests, and so far this blog has not had any convincing analysis of the nature and structure of these interests.

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  • 81. At 5:08pm on 24 Mar 2010, greece2000 wrote:


    Let me repeat, the Greek economy is in a better shape than other European countries':

    Public and private debt:

    Netherlands 234%
    Ireland 222%
    Belgium 219%
    Spain 207%
    Portugal 197%
    Italy 194%
    Greece 179%
    Eurozone 175%

    Pre-crisis Greece had the highest growth rate in Europe and so will be when the crisis is over.

    Greece's economy is smaller in size and more vulnerable to speculators and thus seen as the back door to harm the Euro. Nothing more nothing less.
    If you didn't notice Portugal who is even weaker is next and was downgraded by Fitch.

    Finally let's see who works harder in the EU?

    Working hours per week by country (source Eurostat, 2nd quarter 2009)

    Country Hours per week

    Austria 41.5
    Belgium 40.2
    France 38.3
    Germany 40.8
    Denmark 38.0
    Greece 42.0
    Britain 40.8
    Ireland 39.4
    Spain 40.6
    Italy 39.9
    Cyprus 39.6
    Luxemburg 40.9
    Malta 41.1
    Netherlands 40.3
    Portugal 39.9
    Sweden 38.1
    Finland 37.8
    Esthonia 39.3
    Latvia 40.5
    Lithuania 39.9
    Poland 41.4
    Hungary 40.6
    Slovakia 39.3
    Slovenia 40.4
    Czech Rep. 41.6
    Europe of 27 40.3
    Eurozone 40.0

    Greeks work the most hours (Source Eurostat)

    As for corruption and blah blah blah, it's everywhere.

    Lots of bars and services like car body repairs or similar in Britain won't give you a receipt.

    Same in Greece, same everywhere

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  • 82. At 5:19pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    4. At 10:29am on 24 Mar 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    "I agree with Euprisoner -

    its absurd to ask Germany to be less competitive. They did their homework. Other's didn't. Tough luck."

    EUpris: Ghertyando! You agree with me! Benissimo!

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  • 83. At 5:19pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    !paddyjones, please read the article again! Merkel was the one who wanted this bailout recently!

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  • 84. At 5:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    mvr512, what are you talking about? Merkel doesn’t want to help because Greece didn’t want to sell their land. And to all of you who talk about Greece in a bad way...look what happened after the 15th of Sept 2008. Do you think that if Greece goes down other countries will go up? Well, so I have to tell you my friends...you are wrong!

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  • 85. At 5:23pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    No, I do not agree that Germans are in support of Europe but I would say that they are in support of Germany. The European Union has been created in order to unite and as every union it did involve certain risks and obligations. IMF has been also created to benefit the structure and as the article states: "the Germans accepted monetary union in the 1990s on condition that the euro would be as strong as the mark, with low inflation, strict budget discipline and no bail-out for the weak". How do they look now and how can you say that they are in support of Germany?
    It reminds me about the wars in the past because when everything was good, there were people ready to help and make commitments such as: we will come and help in the case of the attach, although when the attack started, nobody remembered about their words.

    Germany reminds me about the USA. After the attack on the September, 11, the American President was saying: our world and our safety but when it came to the profits it was America and American people. The same happened when white person came from Europe to the South America. They came with the Bible to teach about a new religion, they received food and a shelter but later they left with gold and slaves and left the Bible.
    Don’t you see that the history repeats? And I will tell you more, if certain countries such as Germany do not realise that we do need to support each others, why? September 15, 2008 should tell you why, the history will repeat again and we will whether walk hungry or commit a suicide from the lack of solutions.

    As the previously mentioned September, 15 showed us. We may have borders and speak different languages but all depend from each others. The collapsing company on the other side of the world started the biggest recession in the history. Many people lost jobs and many struggle today all over the world. What if we listen to Germany and let not a single unit, not a company but the country go down? What if we turn our back at our European friends and forget about them? Do you really think that because you write from Chile, USA, Australia, South Africa or Germany this problem is not yours? Well, if you have thought so until now, I have to tell you my friend, the day Greece goes down, we will all go down because we all invest abroad and we all have an interest.

    That was the commercial part, now something more for ordinary human beings.
    Before my country became a part of the European Union and people were not sure whether to take this risk/ challenge or not to and I put my heart and soul in many projects in order to convince them that this structure is our structure, it is for rich and poor people, for corporate and regular citizens, it is to make our life better, to never
    let us be uncertain about tomorrow because as a single unit, we are not able to do much but as a united structure we can. I have always believed in EU and I made many people to believe as well but after reading the comments of people such as Angela Merkel, I feel that my faith and trust in this international project has decreased. I was not sure if I want to work for the European Government as I always wanted…

    If you are a European citizen, take 5 min to read news and start thinking straight! Many countries are getting stronger around the world and try to rebuild the recent economical disaster. Do you really think that even a country such as the UK, Germany or France can compete with the USA, China or Russia? Well, no, they cannot. I will even tell you more. Did you know that the Latin America is planning to set a union as well? Now you know and now you can open your eyes and think! We are nothing and only as a “team” can make something so yes, I do agree with the title of this article and I think that there are many sentences said/ written by very intelligent people who understand well what I am talking about.

    My message to all the Germans: It is not a mistake to love your country but it is a big weakness to turn your back at another nation. It is very bad to think in a selfish way as you have thought so far. You, as a country made an offer to buy Greek territory and when your offer has been rejected, you decided not to help. Isn’t your country big enough that as during the war you want others land? You call yourself a strong country so get up there to the borders of the Acropolis and help. Stop talking and prove me as well as millions that you do care about others because one day when another crisis comes to your door, when you get lost in your own problems and try to look for the solutions, all what you may see will be our backs.

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  • 86. At 5:28pm on 24 Mar 2010, SuperJulianR wrote:

    Angela Merkel has brought a difference in tone in her dealings with the EU - more nationalistic and less 'European' in her thinking than past Chancellors. I have to say that it was only to be expected that because she is the first East German to lead Germany. Unlike all her predecessors, she did not grow up in the post-war consensus-lead West Germany that almost unquestioningly went along with European integration and built the Franco-German alliance.

    East Germans dreamed of re-unification with West Germany (far, far more than most West Germans dreamed of re-unification with the poorer East in my experience). They wanted (West) Germany to use its wealth to re-build the bankrupt former East Germany, they wanted the strong Deutschmark, they wanted parity with West German wages. It was not their dream to rebuild Europe as a whole, to adopt the Euro, or seek to raise economic prosperity across the EU. It was Germany they wanted, not Europe - their dream was NOT unification of Europe in the way that West Germans accepted and even supported, so their priorities are different.

    West Germany grew rich on European integration, and - ironically because the Euro is much cheaper than the Deutschmark would have been - continues to grow rich on exports across the EU. But this is not something that former East Germans have in their blood.

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  • 87. At 5:28pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @ Chris Camp Re: 63 - You wrote:
    'Are we talking to adults here or are they just a nation of children?'

    Chris, funny you should mention this as it is one of my favourite quotes: 'Greeks, you are always children, and there is no Greek who is old' (Plato, Timaeus 22b).

    This is the problem exactly. Contemporary Greeks are used to having rights only and no responsibilities whatsoever. Even now, their statement and press are hiding the truth from them and treating them like children. Greeks don't need money - they need to take a good, long look in the mirror.

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  • 88. At 5:33pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re:65: Annie, while you are right on FDR-DDR integration, about Germany paying and about not receiving any decent increase in voice within the EU you keep chewing the same gum on Greece: forget this "bite the hand the feeds you" story. Greeks - apart corruption - were never fed by the EU. It got in the EU solely for geopolitical protection and nothing else - the opposite, Greeks were wary of "how much it was going to cost" and not jumping around thinking about money parcels. The EU, true, gives money to countries like Greece but rarely you will see a 100% funding... it is mostly about 50-50% or 40-60% funding. I have explained how this 50-50% approach is calculated in the beginning of the project and how people are paid to keep their mouths shut on the actual costs (most of them are uninformed cos in specialist large scale projects, it is not easy to know...). I will say it again and again: a project that initially costs 400 million euros is going ot receive a 200 million euros but 50 million have been already spread about Greek(public sector)-EU (a few EU & mostly pivate sector) interlocutors, so by the end of the project that will cost 200% the initial price (and it is common they even 3ple!!!! - see Olympic projects...), Greece has already paid 650 millions. For a project that is questionable it needed and/or questionable if the application applied was demanded.

    The above is reality. And do you know what reality says? That Greece was imposed to take more and more loans to be able to finish projects that were increasing the corruption rate and the black market in the economy, projects whose whose financial outcome would be questionable - while at the same time be refused to make blatantly beneficial strategic agreements with Russians and Chinese, real projects of real value, that would inherently ask Greeks to send there more working teams and less corrupted middle-men.

    All that for what if not to serve the interests of EU and of course to keep down the country in relation to US interests in the greater area which the EU seems unable to get independent off as Greece once hoped. Greeks clung faithfully to EU not out of their naive faith (a fact too) but because the leaders were all into EU-funded corruption, spreading it to their direct and even indirect underlings so they could perpetuate their control (see the survival of PASOK and ND, parties that would not exist under normal conditions). Prior to EU, there could exist corrupted parties but there could not exist at the level of PASOK. Even during dictatorship corruption had not even attaigned the 1/10 of what EU-funded corruption attaigned. If EU was ever feeding Greece (i.e. giving and not receiving instantly), it would stop that farse since the 1st year!

    But here, 8 years back everything was fine. Greece was up to the job! And had intersting rythms of development. And was organiser of the most expensive Olympics ever (don't know if that was surpassed by Beijing, Chinese data is not very exact, I doubt given the wages of their suppliers there...). And had the same loan-hungry attitude, things were clear even 10 years earlier in 1990s of how the Greek economy would move.

    So if in very early 1980s EEC should react pre-emptively, if in very early 1990s it should react on the post, if in late 1990s it was already late, if in early 2000s it was already late - still Greece enterring Europe - what made the EU sit down and talk today, starting 1 week after the Greek very unusual and very early elections? It was the 6% suggested by US private institutions.

    Should I make a guess that if the 6% suggestion from US private institutions was not mentioned, the EU - and Germany - would not have the slightest problem to continue singing the same song at Greece: you borrow, you built we do it for you. But the idea is not that. Its the good old trick: drag a country to borrow to do development projects, give a bit yourself as-if to aid but you 'll receive through the trick of the Delta of Final-Initial budget, then let the country fall and go inside and buy everything - especially land.

    Do you think the comment of Germans: "sell your islands" was accidental? It was not. It was also simply horrible... Germany treated Greece no better than US would treat a country like Costa Rica. And why not afterall if it can?

    German people and Greek people are not consulted in that. German people do not risk losing anything, in fact they somehow gained so many years out of it in the form of employment - unless their government "aids" Greece and finds it as an excuse to tax them. It is the Greek people that already paid and will keep on paying the price in various forms.

    Personally, I rate the relative-poverty as minimal. Greece has seen situations 10 times more difficult. What I am waring most is things that may happen, things related to the "reasons that Greek got into the EU".

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  • 89. At 5:34pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    46. At 2:47pm on 24 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    " ...
    There is some good news: there is a team from Brussels which will analyze, identify problem debt and advise Greece on how to fix its finances. ..."

    EUpris: That is hilarious given that "EU" finances are a mess. Whoever you call in, it shouldn't be people from "Brussels."

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  • 90. At 5:35pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan wrote:

    Germany has also its low income and high income regions or Bundesländer (federal states). The difference between the EURO zone and Germany is, that in Germany there is a transfer of money between high income and low income Länder. It is called Länderfinanzausgleich. It basically means that an per head average income is calculated. The Länder with above average income must give a share of their tax income to the poor Länder with below average income. This ensures cohesion of the german federal system.
    The EURO zone doesn't have such a system. Bail outs are forbidden by law.
    How can Germany expect the EURO system to function, if it is contrary to the system it practices itself at home ?

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  • 91. At 5:36pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    67. At 4:07pm on 24 Mar 2010, Magda wrote:

    "EUprisoner209456731, are you from Germany?"

    EUpris: No. I am a very ethnically mixed British citizen.

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  • 92. At 5:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #42 mvr512 wrote
    “Why should I work to 67 years old when a Greek retires at 55-59...”

    A possible solution to your question would of course be a decision in Bruxelles that lays down the same retirement age for everybody within the Euro zone or the Union as such. Only of course, the political implications of this are uneatable to many.
    Bruxelles (and Berlin for that matter) benefits from that since it cannot be blamed. Instead the national governments, in this case in Greece, will have to make the decision, for instance to make a retirement age just like that of other Euro zone countries. And we are back to field no one.

    The day nationalism is defeated will be a good day.

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  • 93. At 5:39pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @ Dan Allen Re: 73

    Sir, you couldn't have said it more aptly. But do the Greeks have the leadership and the courage to rise from servitude and take their fate into their own hands? That has always been the question.

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  • 94. At 5:41pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    I just wanted to mention one more thing here. The other reason of having the European reason was not to have such a situation we have now. It was about supporting each other, advising and solving together. I think that Greece is not the only country guilty in here because the problems have not started in 2010, have they? Someone simply failed to spot the problems on time. Am I wrong? It is very exciting to watch this because firstly Germany said no bailout, many years ago, recently they made an offer which has been rejected by Greece and they said yes to exclusion from the IMF. I do not want to make any accusations but as the recent problems showed, there is always someone behind every crisis. Well, Greece wouldn’t certainly have an interest in pulling themselves down so who would then...?


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  • 95. At 5:44pm on 24 Mar 2010, D Fear wrote:

    Really, I am surprised. So many people defend Germany, yet nobody seems to have noticed that Merkel & Co. (and the previous govts) have tenaciously pursued a most pernicious policy for Germans and the rest of the Eurozone: the country is exporting at the cost of the other Eurozone countries, and simultaneously pushing domestic salaries downward to below the point of poverty for those working. The Greek problem is partly home-grown, of course; the culture of corruption and so forth. But a good part of the trouble (for all Eurozone countries) lies in Germany's thoroughly selfish politics. And if anyone still thinks "the Germans" have abided by the rules, check again. You will be surprised at how they have not! It is high time that the German government return to basics and abandon the so-called "neo-liberal" ideology, which is nothing short of economic stupidity, quite apart from the human cost. For those who read German, check out the "NachDenkSeiten" or "Ad Sinistram". Both deliver good analyses of the matter. (BTW, the UK had better get its financial act together too, it doesn't look at all rosy!) I may add that I live in Germany, I am not talking out of my hat.

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  • 96. At 5:46pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    72. At 4:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, retiredlarnacayorkie wrote:

    " ... cyprus is now struggling through being greedy ripping holidaymakers off,now they are not coming ..."

    EUpris: I have been told here in Sunny England that the Euro is the problem in Cyprus and that everything increased in price once they got it. I have been told that several times. I have also been told that the Cypriots are very nice people and that that part of holidaying there is wonderful.

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  • 97. At 5:47pm on 24 Mar 2010, Warren wrote:

    People have short memories!

    When the Euro was introduced in the 90's, what was some of the conditions given by Germany to hurry it through, Key word the "Germans".

    The way I see it is that ECB is an extension itself of the Deutchse Bank,
    controlled and govered in Frankfruft.

    I am curious to know, how did the Germans expect smaller econ's sustain there growth and control.

    The Mark was a strong currency, but if you look around Europe the Euro has become over inflated.

    Imagine a Croissant cost 50c when the French Franc was used, 5p in Pounds, now it is around €1, which is = to 90p in £'s, or 9 French Franc.

    Over inflated if you ask me.

    Basically, smaller econim,ies are better off by themselves and self governing there own rates to reflect there growth.

    The UK did something right by opting out of the Euro, at least at the moment.

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  • 98. At 5:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re.73: Your message hits quite many points. However with Greece out of euro-zone in this manner, a Greece in difficulty may as well go the full way, i.e. getting ride of the EU altogether and reistalling national financial policies. In that sense, it remains tragically alone in one of the most inflammed regions in the world so it falls into the Russian big-daddy, something which may very possibly prove very beneficial for Greece (historically Greece became rich only via being active in the trade route between the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean).

    I have repeatedly written on that and quite lengthy texts explaining all the possibilities. So in a few words, that is the worst scenario for US - do to forget it is US that kickstarted the current issue using with their man, Giorgakis Papandreou, what else. And if it is the worst scenario that means that they will react, very violently. If Greece is quite alone or with half-hearted backing it is tragically vulnerable and it all might end up in tragedy. In that term, the territorial integrity of Greece is of outmost importance, much more than all its ressources, so if it takes to sell out little bit oil here little bit gold there little bit osmium there it will be sad, it will be losing face but it will be preferrable than being mutilated. Serbians stood proud but where did their pride lead them? (Sooner or) Later they regretted it, and now they pleade to work with the ones that destroyed them. Heart-breaking and the last thing I hope for Greece.

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  • 99. At 6:05pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    71. At 4:20pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    By the way, am I correct in my assumption that the EU treaties prohibit direct financial support?

    Your assumption is absolutely correct. Therefore, it is a major mistake no to take the court in Karlsruhe into consideration. Merkel knows that she can get in problems there, and that is why she
    a) insist on a solution within the treaties and
    b) suggests changes of the treaties.

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  • 100. At 6:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re.63: Ok Chris Camp... let us imagine an imaginary world where Greeks got into the EU out of their own mature, free choise and not because they were militaryily attacked by NATO forces, massacred and etnically cleared in an island that by anyone's logic and law should had been Greek territory even before 1950. Let us imagine that Greece was never threatened by anyone and was not betrayed by its main ally, US (as previously by Britain).

    Do you think that Greeks would spend their time with the rest of Europeans trying to short out the unshortable?

    I return you back to 1978:

    Greece got in the EEC for:
    g e o p o l i t i c a l s e c u r i t y
    reasons...
    ... and it had lots of doubts over how much that was going to cost directly and indirectly. Same thing for the EU back in 1992 - would Greece opt out when the 60% of its sea space is ignored and the 1/3 of its land is demanded by its neighbours?

    Now if you cannot accept this absolute fact, accept the justification that back in 1978 EEC countries gave: "the inclusion of Greece is purely down to geopolitical reasons, not financial".

    What followed next, we know it. Greek corruption 10pled with EEC/EU parcels "blidly" arriving and disappearing on all directions (much of it back to certain EU countries!) while Greece was borrowing more and more to keep up with the necessities imposed by the EEC/EU.

    There you have your answer.

    PS: That does not mean that corruption would not exist outside EU but it would certainly be multiple times less for a simple reason: corruption = macroeconomic failure = dictatorship - people thus would have to "behave"

    PS: As for the incredibly insane socialist measures like kids if orphaned receiving a salary for life - such things exist (do not know if this specific example is true or partially true), indeed though these things exist. But....guess what?

    The vast majority of these irrational (but of course partial donations to small groups, real bits and parts) were given after Greece's entry in the EEC, when PASOK (current government) was in power 1981-1989).

    Back then EEC had nothing to suggest. Papandreou was good since he tuned the Greek economy to become the EU little fat consumer of mainly EU products kicking out the then Japanese largely beneficial strategic deals (and Japanese never came back) in exactly the same way his son kicks now out Russians and Chinese that proposed even more beneficial projects that on top offer an increase geostrategic protection to Greece (namely, the Russian gas), not to mention kickstrarting the economy.

    I am telling you: you have no idea...

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  • 101. At 6:26pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    I think there is a misunderstanding here - the people who come out on Germany's side on this topic are not saying that Germany is a better country or that Germans are a better nation.

    Personally, I am getting concerned about a few easy thinking habits that certain people seem to be reluctant to think over, simply because they are, well, easy.

    Thinking habits in Germany -

    our production monopoly in Europe is desvered because we work hard and it isn't harming anyone. Countries that fall short of keeping foreign debt at bay could have done so if they had payed more attention. The world-wide economic crisis is not our fault, not even partially. Our economy will grow as long as we cut back on public spending.

    Thinking habits in southern Europe -

    we would be a successful economy if other countries had not interfered with us (WW2, hostile/awkward neigbours/the U.S. imposing dictatorships). The people are not to blame, it's our government that keeps getting us in trouble.

    As long as nobody is willing to get out of their comfort zone and starts thinking over these habits, things are just going to carry on the way they are.

    And about this silly Merrcedes link that people keep posting. Mercedes is a corporation. Corporations have one goal and one goal only - to maximise their profit. Corporations have been known to break rules and commit crimes in order to reach that goal. Mercedes, in that respect, is no different from Monsanto, Coca-Cola, BASF, and all the other corporations known to have broken laws. How and why that is supposed to be big news or prove any particular point is beyond me, frankly.

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  • 102. At 6:27pm on 24 Mar 2010, Zoli wrote:

    What the Germans are doing is the most pro European thing that they could posibly do. In today's global environment, a bit of discipline is needed, and a touch of reality. The few healthy members may bail out Greece, efectively adding greece's debt to their own, then what? Greece will still have a masive debt/GDP ratio, and unvillingness to deal with it. If Greece is bailed out, others may line up as well. It is a rough unforgiving world out there, China and India are outcompeting even the poor East European members of EU with their cheap products. Europe can only survive through discipline and hard work. At this point few others beside the Germans understand this.

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  • 103. At 6:33pm on 24 Mar 2010, Pallomides wrote:

    For one the Greek people are ungovernable. Makes sense if you look at the history of the country, Most normal Greeks suffered when the govt. doctored the books to get into the Euro zone. It was priceless when some German MP suggested that the Greeks sell off some of their islands to come up for the deficit. As a Swiss citizen I have never been a friend of the Political Europe, frankly its just not democratic enough. And as far as Schengen goes we can see what its worth when it comes to Gadaffi taking swiss hostages because his son got arrested for misbehaving in Geneva. Now every one is scared of losing money & the italians have threatend to ignore the Schengen rules.

    I am seeing the cracks in the tower of babel & i have to honestly admit that I would be happy to see it fall.

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  • 104. At 6:37pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    Nik, I think that you are 100% right. I do not agree with many comments but not because I have different opinion but simply because the way people express their thoughts.
    The truth is that the countries get most of the money form the corruption so Greece is not the only one we should be talking about. It is very bizarre to observe all what is happening. From one hand we have a difficult situation so the countries are trying everything what they possibly can in order to get money and from the other, all the offences come out.
    I will put it this way, the public sector, the government, and the private sector, the corporations, are not two separate units and they work together in order to get profits. And as I said in my previous comment, the EU has been created for a reason. If Germany is a better country so where have they been when this problem started? We have all the institutions, the best employees, specialists who get paid in order to keep the stability. What’s happened with them? Do you really believe that the problem started in 2010? No. And I have a feeling that certain members of the European community knew about it before.

    For me it is very simple. If you want to make money, pull the strings the way you like, push somebody down and that’s exactly what has happened here. We can all speculate but we should wait and see because I think that more news is going to come out very soon.

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  • 105. At 6:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    I've been away for three weeks and nothing has changed: Greece tries to shirk its obligations; Germany rightly refuses to pay for others' stupidity and corruption; and EU elites still engage in endless publicly-funded rounds of talks (between expensive hotels and even more expensive restaurant).

    I was hoping for a bloodbath.

    I guess I'll have to wait a few weeks more....

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  • 106. At 6:44pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    80, Mathiasen. The German rules are German rules and are internal, and that's why they are not talked about. Trust me, as an American I can appreciate the no bailout policy and the rules. But the fact is, Merkel was adamant against the bank bailouts in 2008--until she found out that German bank and German industry were exposed. Do I really need to get into Commerzbank and KfW and Hypostate and Deutsche Bank? And then Germany accepted American taxpayer money for bailing out some state entities. And here again yesterday we learned that Merkel was trying to push military purchase agreements on Greece.

    This is precisely why people don't take German rules seriously. Because they are slightly hypocritical. And as soon as there's the slightest hint that the stakes of the game may backfire on Germany (i.e. when German banks could have gone under in 2008) Germany suddenly does an about face. Seriously, if Greece ever decided to default, how quickly do you think Merkel would abandon those German rules?!! She would do it in 5 seconds. She is betting that Greece does not have the guts to default, and I'm 99.9% certain that she is right. But if Greece ever went belly-up, she would scream, "To hell with the rules!"

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  • 107. At 6:49pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:

    Oh, and after the huge Siemens bribery scandal today's news report that Daimler has been paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 governments.
    Now let's go back to the corrupt Greeks...

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  • 108. At 6:50pm on 24 Mar 2010, Ragaman wrote:

    I'm sorry to say Gavin Hewitt's analysis is pure sensationalism and off the mark (no currency pun there). The Southern European countries have been riding the bandwagon for long enough and unfortunately have so far failed to really make the structural changes required to be on a par with the stronger economies of the EU. The recession is bringing this home, and, if Greece gets an easy way out now, the other PIGS will all want the same or similar treatment. Merkel is saying what many others don't even dare to think.

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  • 109. At 6:50pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    79. At 4:52pm on 24 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    64. At 3:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, Magda wrote: If you are a European citizen, take 5 min to read news and start thinking straight! Many countries are getting stronger around the world and try to rebuild the recent economical disaster. Do you really think that even a country such as the UK, Germany or France can compete with the USA, China or Russia? Well, no, they cannot. I will even tell you more. Did you know that the Latin America is planning to set a union as well?

    So? We should accept the anti-democratic EU and its unwanted diktats just because of your idea of 'bogeymen' in the rest of the world? I'm not willing to sacrifice democracy in order to have a shoddy and worthless construction like the EU.


    Well, you forget one thing. The EU is no only about giving but also taking and every member contributes in order to invest in the new members, help another member when it is necessary so I don’t know from which country you are coming from but I think that from EU so you don’t know whether your country has not used other money.
    The second thing I would like to mention is that Greece is just a pawn in here and somebody else is playing the game. There is certainly a reason behind all the corruptions we can read now and I will tell you something else, there is something behind Germany which suddenly has changed its mind and thinks about helping Greece. Wait and watch, you will see very soon that this is not just a coincidence.
    The EU has many advisors to help weaker countries. Do you think that the problems in Greece started yesterday or are you that naive to believe that nobody knew about anything?

    Well, I’m on the same side, I don’t want to see people loosing jobs and I think about the solution but please remember that the day Greece will go down. If one company in US went down and pulled other, do you think that the country won’t pull other members? You know what is the biggest risk in every union? Not your position but the position of others. If 100 people put food on one plate, 100 people will eat from that plate.
    The last point, you would be surprised if you could see the speed in which some of the countries in Latin America are growing, very surprised.

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  • 110. At 7:06pm on 24 Mar 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Welcome back MaxSceptic. :-)

    Been somewhere nice? Greece perhaps?

    Or been somewhere nasty and horrible? Germany perhaps?

    ROTFL

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  • 111. At 7:07pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    98, Nik, I'm not buying it. First, Greece would be out of the Eurozone and not the EU. Second, there is no American boogeyman, especially not Obama. Yes, shorts from hedge funds have aggravated Greece's problems in the bond market, but that's what these vultures do.

    Have you noticed that live in a system of global finance? I'm not too sure that anyone here likes it, but Greece is much to small to have any say about it. A collapse of that system would mean billions starve. in the meantime, us peons are treated as serfs while the rich get richer. Between a rock and a hard place, you have to choose self-sufficiency, and so I wonder if the Greeks protesting on the streets understand that they should not be protesting global finance or even the fact that the Greek wealthy have abandoned the country (i.e. when Greece figures out how to prevent the rich from expatriating their wealth, they can inform the rest of the world about that trick, because no country has figured it out yet). I support the Greek protesters only to the extent that they put pressure on Merkel and the like (and the threat is of a Greek default brought on by a gov't collapse). Otherwise, Greeks need to realize that the vultures are capitalists looking for prey. Make sure you are not the obvious target. Run a surplus, for heaven's sake. You have an undiversified economy, and this economy does horribly in recessions (shipping and tourism are among the first to go), and this is the reason for all the corruption and bureaucracy, because wealth must be redistributed in a vertical fashion. You pay someone above you to give you a boost up the latter. I get that. I don't blame the Greeks for this. I'm not worried about corruption either (as if that doesn't go on everywhere--in the USA, it's actually legal, as it's called "campaign finance" and "I have a lobbyist job waiting for you when you're done with that whole elected official scam you have going.") But the point is, do not make yourself an easy target. Run a surplus during good times. You are not a big country that can afford to go into heavy debt.

    There's an anecdote that you often hear in business circles, and it goes like this: Two pilots eject from their plane over the jungle. When they land, they hear a lion's roar close by. One immediately puts on his running shoes. The other says to him: "What are you doing that for? You can't outrun a lion." The first one replies: "I don't need to outrun the lion, I only need to outrun you."

    It's a sad truth.

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  • 112. At 7:10pm on 24 Mar 2010, Warren wrote:

    I think the EU exsists to provide equality, or am I wrong!

    The smaller states need the support of larger states to raise there game so we (The EU) can compete with the big boys, US and China, lets not forget the emerging states such as India.

    If they would like a Superstate then they all need to work together, if a member of your family make a bad decision would you not help them out.

    The Member states we are discussing here are the smaller less mature ones.


    If the EU does not help the Greeks, then the EU has failed, a family member.

    We can't blame the Germans, but we can blame the EU for allowing Greece to get in such a mess.

    If it is true that 5 years ago they were at 100% GDP in debit.

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  • 113. At 7:10pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    101. At 6:26pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    I think there is a misunderstanding here - the people who come out on Germany's side on this topic are not saying that Germany is a better country or that Germans are a better nation.

    Personally, I am getting concerned about a few easy thinking habits that certain people seem to be reluctant to think over, simply because they are, well, easy.

    Chris, as you know the governments, sign so called the Double Taxation Treaties, they put the taxes down and raise them, and they work close with the companies, why?
    It is simply because the countries are making money out of their existence. Why do you separate the corporate entity from the public one? They are all the same. In the poor countries, e.g. Coca-Cola puts the toxic waste and the government won’t do anything because if they pull out, there will be no investor within the borders. The difference is that if something happens in a rich area, we all know the details so I think that this is a good example of the corporate world which does include the governments.

    I can see from your comment that you read the news so I strongly believe that you have seen what has been happening before. Look how many MPs, people we voted for in various countries have been cut on making money in a not very legal way? What does it show you? It shows that there are many hands, the public ones, on the private states and I think that because certain people started losing ground under their feet and decided to pull out. I think that all this is just for us to watch, to cover something what has been happening for years…

    That is true what you wrote that companies: "...Corporations have one goal and one goal only - to maximise their profit..." but do not forget that they are playing their game but on somebody’s playground and you don’t get anything for free, even few hours of fun so I think that Germany is not as innocent as many of you state in here. I felt like I was on the zeit.de and not bbc.com. It´s sad to look how humans will never learn. Most of you are behind Germany because you believe in everything they say.

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  • 114. At 7:17pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    After reading more, I think I'm going to bow out. It's apparent people don't understand what the actual bailout for Greece is. People think that Greece is going to get money directly from its Euro partners and thereby not make any changes.

    You can argue after I'm gone about why I'm correct/incorrect, but I thought I'd spell out what the stakes are, as I see them:

    1. Greece is not looking for money so it can live as it has. It has instituted austerity measures that are likely to cripple its GDP growth. Think Latvia. What it wants from the EU is a backstop that would help it to secure lower interest rates for its bonds. You may see that as a bailout, but the fact is, this is the minimum that can be done for Greece to prevent a default. Now, Greece could accept that minimal help and continue on for decades NEVER being able to grow out of the debt problem (Greece would need to grow 10% a year or more if it starts taking loans at 6-7%, and that level of growth has never been done).

    2. Greece is demanding lower rates so that it can clear up its debt problem within the next 7 to 10 years. If Greece is forced to take much higher rates (and thereby NEVER improve its debt situation) then it should default, and that default will ripple throughout Europe in the world, as $300 billion in debt is held in foreign banks around Europe, and in addition, there are CDS contracts out there that will cause losses many times over that debt.

    These are the choices. Let's not get into this, Greeks want money to retire at 55 thing again. That's just misinformation. The Greek retirement age at present is 63, I believe, though I could be wrong. I know it isn't in the 50s.

    Realize this, in the end, there is no way that Greece can fathom taking 6-7% loans for a sustained period. It's not going to happen. The gov't will be toppled and the country will default before then.

    This is why I suggested restructuring debt, paying much of what they owe--but not all. Greece should do things on its own terms.

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  • 115. At 7:18pm on 24 Mar 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To Chris Camp (63):

    "1.) The Euro itself - the whole idea seemed unnecessary from the start. One of the main advantages Europe had over other common markets was the possibility to micro-manage interest rates from country to country, from region to region, as it were."

    Actually no, that was a disadvantage.

    Before Euro individuals and companies had due to having multiple currencies transaction costs and currency risks when making financial transactions from country to country. With Euro individuals and companies can have less costs, they can engage into transactions more easily and more securely. Count also to the advantages of having only one currency increased competition inside Eurozone due to having more transparent pricing and individuals and companies having lower limits to buy outside their country of origin.

    Then there is the thing that Euro is just going to become more efficient in the future. Right now we are moving into a SEPA system making whole Eurozone one domestic banking area, this in time with other harmonising of regulations should make European banking and financial sectors to merge into one giant sector dominated by less than 10 pan-European financial institutions like in the USA.

    There are actual reasons for Euro and they mostly involve efficiency and stability, great boons for the private sector.

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  • 116. At 7:25pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #106 Dan Allen;
    I am sure that an American can tell me something about the theme; Small countries abide by the rules, and big countries do what they want.
    My personal position has always been to support international law and order. That is why I am in favour of the UN, the Kyoto protocol, the court in the Hague, etc.

    The EU is not exception to the rule.

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  • 117. At 7:29pm on 24 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Menedemus @110,

    Thanks for asking: I was in the Middle East enjoying two very different but very beautiful countries.

    I do like visiting Germany: a nice blend of culture, order and nature combined with a the edginess of Berlin and hamburg (OK, so they go completely crazy every half century or so.... we've all got our faults...). When the Germans acquire a few Greek Islands in lieu of their largess (as proposed by a German Parliamentarian) I may even venture to there for a vacation.

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  • 118. At 7:32pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    112. At 7:10pm on 24 Mar 2010, Warren wrote:

    I think the EU exsists to provide equality, or am I wrong!

    The smaller states need the support of larger states to raise there game so we (The EU) can compete with the big boys, US and China, lets not forget the emerging states such as India.


    And that’s exactly what I have been trying to say. We cannot blame Germans for it but we can for unfair play but we can EU for not spotting on the problem.


    102. At 6:27pm on 24 Mar 2010, Zoli wrote:

    What the Germans are doing is the most pro European thing that they could posibly do. In today's global environment, a bit of discipline is needed, and a touch of reality.

    Zoli, what discipline are you talking about? Ou, Germany is a powerful country so they can say once no to bailout and the next time yes? That is not equality, is that? If they are such a disciplined country, why don’t they show it to us?

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  • 119. At 7:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    Re: 114

    Dan, retirement age is about to reach 67, but the unpaid contributions rate is around 30% of the insured persons. Coupled with the aging population, it has brought Greece's social security on the brink of collapse.

    Greek public administration is completely inefficient and unable to implement governmental policies; that much has become apparent during the last years. And, evidently, there are currently no Greek politicians capable of taking the country out of this mess and into a course of re-structuring and development. Greece has a grave social and institutional problems, its fiscal troubles are just the result of a long period of general mismanagement.

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  • 120. At 7:52pm on 24 Mar 2010, Enigma008 wrote:

    117. At 7:29pm on 24 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    I do like visiting Germany: a nice blend of culture, order and nature combined with a the edginess of Berlin and hamburg (OK, so they go completely crazy every half century or so.... we've all got our faults...). When the Germans acquire a few Greek Islands in lieu of their largess (as proposed by a German Parliamentarian) I may even venture to there for a vacation.

    I hope that they won’t.

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  • 121. At 8:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, Kelly wrote:

    The EU is like a barrel. Lots of good apples agreed to go into partnership and the barrel became "better". Others joined the barrel but these apples were not as good and decreased the overall quality of the EU.
    Now we find a number of bad apples will make vinegar instead of cider.

    Chucking out ALL the bad apples asap will be better sense.

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  • 122. At 8:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    116. At 7:25pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    " ... .
    My personal position has always been to support international law and order. That is why I am in favour of the UN, the Kyoto protocol, the court in the Hague, etc.

    The EU is not exception to the rule. "

    EUpris: The "EU" is an exception to the rule. We in the UK were promised a referendum which we did not get. It has no right to exist.

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  • 123. At 8:57pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    107. At 6:49pm on 24 Mar 2010, Elias Kostopoulos wrote:

    "Oh, and after the huge Siemens bribery scandal today's news report that Daimler has been paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 governments.
    Now let's go back to the corrupt Greeks..."

    EUpris: And then there is the matter of ex-British ministers offering to try to influence the British government for money.

    Taken altogether, I think it is extremely likely the the UK is in the "EU" because some MPs have been bribed.

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  • 124. At 9:00pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    105. At 6:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    "I've been away for three weeks and nothing has changed: Greece tries to shirk its obligations; Germany rightly refuses to pay for others' stupidity and corruption; and EU elites still engage in endless publicly-funded rounds of talks (between expensive hotels and even more expensive restaurant).

    I was hoping for a bloodbath.

    I guess I'll have to wait a few weeks more...."

    EUpris: I fear there could be a real bloodbath one day.

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  • 125. At 9:04pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    103. At 6:33pm on 24 Mar 2010, Pallomides wrote:


    " ... As a Swiss citizen I have never been a friend of the Political Europe ..."

    EUpris: Nice to see a Swiss person posting here. I regret that when people in England learn German, they concentrate on Germany. We have a lot to learn from Germany. I believe we have more to learn from the Swiss.

    WHERE ARE THE SWEEDS?

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  • 126. At 9:07pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    92. At 5:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    "

    #42 mvr512 wrote
    “Why should I work to 67 years old when a Greek retires at 55-59...”

    A possible solution to your question would of course be a decision in Bruxelles that lays down the same retirement age for everybody within the Euro zone or the Union as such..."

    EUpris: A better solution would be not to be in the "EU" at all.

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  • 127. At 9:14pm on 24 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Even if the UK were to leave the "EU", I would still want to help the Greeks because they are our partners in NATO and because they are our fellow human beings. I don't want to help them through the "EU".

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  • 128. At 9:22pm on 24 Mar 2010, ashkar wrote:

    As a German, who's lived in the U.K. for a couple of years... things aren't easy to explain from a German point of view. This isn't a linear thing, as has been said before. And to point out one thing very clearly which has been said before: The German public, until today, is very aware that without the western allies, especially the U.S., Germany would never have achieved the economic strength of today after WW2. If we ever saw a bail-out that'd be the one. But it was accompanied by non-souvereignty for ~40+ years. Rightfully, and in this particular case, fortunately. But no model to apply in any case in the future for any EU member. Hence, though I think, rules have to be obayed, EU should strictly refrain from interfering in fical politics in other countries. But the whole Euro region, all of EU, should be able to rely on financial reason of all members.

    I think, nothing in the public opinion in Germany is aiming at blaming "Greece" or other nations for the troubles they're in; Germany is in trouble as well, but perhaps, the German people are complaining on a high-level of living-standard?!

    One piece of the mosaic is that wealth of the west-German people has been decreasing rapidly since reunification (though we Germans appreciate very much the willingness of the allies and the victims of german terror in WW2, to allow for this reunification to happen!), while pride and self-conscience of the east-German people has suffered a lot in these years. And East-Germany was "bailed out"... a price, very high for both parts of Germany, the west lost part of its economic strength, the east it's pride. We're still paying the price for that - on both sides, and on both sides psychologically rather than materially.

    Since then, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, year by year - we're living in a globalised economy. Poverty of children in Germany has increased dramatically over the last years, and too many families are just not able to get along by themselves. And we're told: It's for the best; the best for of society.

    Since there are more poor than rich, obviously (?) the poor can do more for the sustainability of the society than the rich. Development in Germany, economically, socially, fiscally has been eyed very closely be the Germans for 15 years or so. Germans are not happy with what is going on here, they've lost a lot during these years - in wealth and pride.

    And they are asked to sacrifice more, of both, by their government, and by reason; changes are not yet over; things will become even harder here, and everywhere.
    But, usually,Germans nowadys are simply not the ones to thumb the table.

    For many years now, in Germany, increase in salaries is lower than the rising cost. This will continue. Sounds a lot like Greece, doesn't it?

    I guess, the German people was very upset, when bail-outs for some banks were arranged. However, I'm aware that this was a strategy to prevent the break-down of the whole economic system which is, to my mind, based on a bubble of ... well, more or less nothing.

    I can understand that German politicians are reluctant to support a bail-out for any of the Euro-members (apart from that it's against the treaties anyway and Karlsruhe would simply not allow it). First of all, it's hard to sell to the voters, the people won't understand it and won't go for it. Second is: Germany itself is in deep trouble with its own depts, it simply can't afford any bail-outs. Taking chances would lead again to Germany failing the Maastricht criteria for years to come... and Germany failed those criteria quite regularly in the past (and in the present and in the future!).

    On the other hand, I'm pretty sure, Germany/France/Benelux et al. won't let Greece, or any other member of the union down. I'd guess, this is all sort of political theatre. Behind the curtain, diplomats are very busy and they'll probably find a way to sort things out. But neither the rightfully proud people of Greece nor the Germans nor the French or any others in the EU will deliberately let the union fail - not even the often (by the "continentals") blamed British will risk that... there's too much at stake for all of them. Hence, I'm pretty confident that we'll learn in the next couple of weeks that, well, things'll be sorted in a sort of "silent way".



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  • 129. At 9:38pm on 24 Mar 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    Really good post ashkar. I don't think the German people need to apologize. I do think your leadership though needs to show, well, leadership. Frankly, it's shocking to hear the rhetoric about genetic inferiority of Greeks and the lack of a proper mentality. Thilo Sarazin made some of the odious comments I heard in many years. And he's a Bundesbank honcho? The rhetoric coming from German leadership is not new, and it's odious, and unfortunately, we heard it all before. That's what Sarkozy was alluding to.

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  • 130. At 9:48pm on 24 Mar 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    That's rich! Sarko insinuating the Germans are imperialistic! I always viewed the Federal Europe project as a French construct where they could use European money (German money) to try regain French (re branded as “European”) global standing and challenge the US for economic pre-eminence.
    France still has colonies all over the world and they think the Germans are imperialists?? The hypocrisy of the French leader is unbelievable.
    The Germans would be much better off breaking the shackles that bind them to France, never mind about Greece.

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  • 131. At 9:54pm on 24 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    EU-Brussels time to pay the piper!

    Quote, ".. now (EU26) see an economically dominant country (Germany) that will go it alone.."
    Quote, "... as one German Professor put it, 'collective memory'.."

    Oh no!

    Mr Hewitt!

    You mean Msr President Sarkozy, Commission President Barroso, the entire EU 'leadership' have come around to the startling idea that those nice, peaceful, fraternising, overly generous Germans may have been acting in their own interests all along?

    Well, isn't that a shocker? Isn't that stunningly non-EUropean Union?

    How could that possibly have come about: Germany isn't going to bail-out any Nation unless that/those Nation/s do exactly as they are told by the Great Power in the EU?

    Germany acting on behalf of Germany and throwing its weight around!

    That has to be the biggest example of NO SURPRISE AT ALL IN THE HISTORY OF EUROPEAN RELATIONS over the last 150 years!

    Oh yes! Chancellor Merkel and all Germany is ".. committed EUropean.."! Hasn't the History of the last 150 years shown that a number of times? It is entirely focused on EUrope: Why isn't the "..EU Franco-German partnership.." proof of its 100% intentions? Berlin must have cracked up with laughter to find such an inept, dupable, willing ally!

    Please, will all the 'pro-EU' just give all us doubters a break: ADMIT IT - - YOU'VE BEEN HAD - - & over the decade ahead You are all going to pay the price to Berlin!

    It would be funny for London, Brusels, Warsaw, Rome, Stockholm, Lisbon etc. if it had not been so entirely predictable and such a tragically repetitious lesson for ALL EUrope and EUropeans.

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  • 132. At 10:33pm on 24 Mar 2010, politis wrote:

    I am really getting tired of hearing and reading of Greek 'cooking' of the books and Greece being a country of fraud people living well on other peoples' pockets.
    I have lived and worked in Greece and Europe for many years and I can have a good opinion on this, far better that many writers and readers of European newspapers.
    The majority of Greek people are no fraudsters or tax evaders, they work extremely hard, more hours per week than many of their fellow Europeans and they are badly paid (according their economy).
    Personally, I am working in Greece for years and have never evaded tax. Same with all people of my family. I work more than 60 hours per week and I will (until new notice) be retired at 65.
    In Greece, yes there are fraudsters or big 'sharks' as EVERYWHERE in western economies. The measures taken in Germany or Italy for bringing black money back in the country is not a Greek invention.
    The Greek state used finance tools in the same manner like all other European countries to 'better' the results but never hidden debts and that was not the root of the current problem.
    The Greek deficit boomed to 12,7% last year, instead of the planned 4% in the same manner as if a company would go worse than planned in the middle of a crisis. You can blame the company manager as inappropriate but you cannot call him a fraudster. The same thing happened this year everywhere in western economies.
    My fellow European leaders and global markets, please drop down your morality masks and do not cry for our 300bn Euro dept, because most of this cash is in your countries' pockets and we will pay it back with interest(Greek people are the ones who should cry). Good or bad that is how it is, I do not blame others on this. In free market economy the big fish eats the small fish. Stop using your media to imply to your citizens that Greeks were living or will be living on their money. Greek people have contributed very well to other european economies in the same way as EU contributed to Greece.

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  • 133. At 10:34pm on 24 Mar 2010, bob wrote:

    typical germans.think they still rule the world,if they are in euro the have to help any country that needs help,its called europe not germany.

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  • 134. At 10:43pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    Why do people post rubish?

    On the question what countries meet the Euro criteria let me tell you its not GERMANY or HOLLAND or some ubermensch nation

    fact: it is LUX, so please spare us the sermon

    On the question of corruption

    fact: Greece, Germany etc. both have corruption and bribes in my view private sectior corruption is as bad as public sector corruption. So please spare us the sermon

    On the question of not paying taxes

    fact: Germany is buying bank account details of its non tax paying citizens from Switzerland. So please spare us the sermon

    On the question of Merkel doing what the public wants her to do

    fact: Even in the 1930's politicians new that you demonise your enemy through the media and then when the crowds are suffiently worked up, you claim you do in the name of the people.

    On the question of hard working Germans

    fact: we here in the UK work just as hard, we have a large debt just as the Greeks have. The Greeks work just as hard as the Germans in hours at least as someone pointed above. So please spare us the sermon.

    On the question of bail-out

    fact: it is not a bail out, it is politcal support and threads to the markets to lend them at less that loan shark rates.

    On the question of unity

    fact: The Greeks today through the stupidity of their leader (for not defaulting) are more pro-EU than the German leadership.

    On the question of the Euro

    fact: Merkel is doing to far more damage than good. I was very pro-Euro but now until this mess is sorted out I'm happy with my GBP

    Again does anyone here have a clue how to fix the Euro, without repeating the nonsense "kick the Greeks out". That don't fix any problems it creates even more.

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  • 135. At 10:52pm on 24 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #131

    CBW I hope we disagree again one day, but as things stand at the moment I'll have to admit that I'm eating "humble pie" at the moment. Zero unity in the union and as Freeborn John often said zero solidarity as there is no demos. I still can't believe how nationalistic and narrow minded people are.

    With none of the above present in the union what purpose does it serve? none!

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  • 136. At 11:28pm on 24 Mar 2010, greece2000 wrote:

    134. At 10:43pm on 24 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:

    "Again does anyone here have a clue how to fix the Euro"

    By further integrating to a political union, transform into a federal state with President elected by the people(s)?

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  • 137. At 11:28pm on 24 Mar 2010, groundcontrol wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 138. At 00:07am on 25 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    SuperJulianR @86
    I think a good observation. Not sure A.M. acts the way she does for being East German, but I do think "Easterners" wanted to get HOME and this is not how they imagined it to be. :o(


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  • 139. At 00:16am on 25 Mar 2010, GreekRightWing wrote:

    Why our Government does not understand that it is NOT necessary to remain in the EU anymore? When our politicians will start to realize that we are firstly GREEKS and THEN Europeans? What's the point to have a government that does whatever Brussels say?

    As far Germans complaining us for being irresponsible, thanks we are not like Germans committing atrocities and genocide. We simply want our country back without being forced to obey foreign rules. Shame on you barbarians you are spoiling the name of OUR country when you speak about it. When we had civilization you were digging with your hands. Without us you are NOTHING. When we were talking about philosophy and mathematics you did not know anything more than WAR. You work and live as slaves, you deep inside you feel unhappy with your miserable life. You wished to be Greeks but you are nothing more than barbarians.

    Oh... I forgot to mention, we have 2 million illegal immigrants and you accuse us for racism... You are being like children aren't you.

    We don't want EU anymore. We simply wanna stay Greeks because we don't accept the New World Order who want to make us look like descent Europeans. Greece is for Greeks.

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  • 140. At 00:17am on 25 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    134. At 10:43pm on 24 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:

    " ...

    On the question of hard working Germans

    fact: we here in the UK work just as hard, we have a large debt just as the Greeks have. ..."

    EUpris: I believe I read and heard on several occasions that Germans do not believe in working hard. They believe in working clever.

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  • 141. At 01:23am on 25 Mar 2010, chohatsu wrote:

    why is everybody beating on the germans again,did they mess smthng up?
    OH , no, they just don't want to pay for someone elses mistakes .
    i am with that idea.
    And,...i think the only reason why England does not participate in the EURO is ,they simply can't afford it!
    explain to me why Thatcher can say NO,and be THE IRON LADY, but Merkel
    gets insulted by Sarkosy? How is this european brotherly union behavior?
    have they been completely fake for all these years?

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  • 142. At 02:03am on 25 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Is Portugal the next shoe to drop?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8584812.stm

    Five little piigies when to market. Evidently the market thinks they smell bad and is charging them more to borrow money. They must cut their deficits at a time when their weak economies need stimulus. But during better times they were so cavalier about how much money they spent, how much debt they accumulated that now their credit ratig is trash. When it comes to how they will adjust their budgets, they are damned if they do run up even higher deficits to stimulate growth, damned if they don't to satisfy credit rating agencies who determine to a large extent what they will have to pay to borrow more. The price for the lavish social safety nets and inefficient bureaucracies of these welfare states is more than their productivity can sustain. The disparity is now so large it can't get any larger. The past is unsustainable. That's what EU officials say themselves but they have no way to resolve the diffulties it has created.

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  • 143. At 02:25am on 25 Mar 2010, Total_Dude wrote:

    After reading all the comments I've seen accusations of racism, North vs. South, Federalism versus State Sovereignty, and discussions of States leaving the union, all revolving around underlying economic issues.

    As an American, I'm just waiting for someone to call this "The War Of Northern Aggression."

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  • 144. At 02:37am on 25 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    The irony of Angel Eyes is deep. First of all, having grown up and learned to think along the lines of a failed socialist state, she now finds herself as the leader of what is about to become a failed quasi capitalist state, actually a social welfare state. The irony is further augmented by the fact that she sits at the fulcrum where leverage can be applied to tip the future of a confederation of corrupt quasi-capitalist welfare states in what amounts to a socialist confederation not all that unlike the Soviet bloc. Germany is to the EU and Euroland what the USSR was to the Warsaw pact, its industrial and financial guarantor. When the USSR went bankrupt, the Warsaw pact died and then the USSR followed shortly after. She doesn't want to go down that same road again but she may not have any choice. The debts run up by the EUSSR states with their expensive social safety nets and useless bureaucracies will deplete Germany just as surely as the Soviet Empire depleted the USSR. It must seem like old familiar ground to her, a nightmare relived. Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repaat them observed Santyana.

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  • 145. At 02:45am on 25 Mar 2010, KeepTheChange wrote:

    @ GreekRightWing

    Any more of your ranting to come? This is hatred at its best.

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  • 146. At 02:50am on 25 Mar 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    It seems things are going to be getting more hard for the Eurozone than easier!

    On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings announced it had downgraded its rating of Portugal’s long-term foreign- and local-currency debt and that the outlook on the long-term debt was negative. The move reflected the fact that the Portuguese government’s 2009 budget deficit had swelled to 9.3% of GDP, well above the 6.5% deficit the ratings agency had previously expected and this increased budget deficit has risen despite austerity measures having been pursued by the Portuguese government.

    The resolve of Germany to not get involved in lending to Greece is looking more reasonable as it seems that now Portugal is also going to find it hard to borrow at the 3% cheaper rate (i.e. 3% less than the 6% interest rate that Greece will otherwise have to take on!) that Greece is seeking to have its Eurozone 'partners' guarantee.

    With two PIIG nations in need of funding that they might have to pay higher loan interest rates upon, the Eurozone is looking even less likely to be able to afford to guarantee the loans needed and Germany reluctance now starts to seem more reasonable and pragmatic than obstructive.

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  • 147. At 02:58am on 25 Mar 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    143. Total_Dude

    My what big ears you have. It do sound familiar don't it?

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  • 148. At 03:02am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    ChrisArta, you said in post #135 "...Zero unity in the union...zero solidarity as there is no demos..."

    I've dealt with the function of the EU and the existence of an European demos in a previous post here.

    You then said in post #136 "...does anyone here have a clue how to fix the Euro..."

    Arguably, it isn't broken - Greece, Portugal, et al are broken. The Euro is a symptom of a problem, rather than a problem per se. But that's a rather narrow view. The currency will survive in its present form unless one of its members decides to leave, and I doubt that'll happen (I've been wrong before, though). As for the level it'll be trading at on, say, December 31st 2010, I have absolutely no idea. Apols, but I have no productive answer for you.

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 149. At 03:04am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    mvr512 and Mathiasen, you have both pointed out that overt Greece bailouts are illegal (specifically, Germany is constitutionally prevented from doing so). You are correct. However, there's nothing stopping the EU qua EU funnelling shedloads of cash to Greece/Portugal/wherever on, you know, purely coincidental grounds. The EU can do that entirely legally. The German Constitutional Court binds the German state, whether acting on its own or as one of the EU-27. But Karlsruhe's reach doesn't extend to the EU, which is legally separate. So it could go something like this:

    * Germany gives shedloads of cash to the EU (which it's going to do anyway).
    * Karlsruhe says "OK no probs".
    * EU gives shedloads of cash to Greece/Portugal/wherever because, y'know, it's cute.
    * Karlsruhe says "Whoa, wait a minute".
    * EU says "Er, you have no jurisdiction here" (it doesn't).
    * Karlsruhe goes to its bedroom and sulks.

    It's Europe. There's always a workaround. The only limiting factor is getting the heads of governments of the EU-27 or Euro-16 to agree. Since they're currently running around like headless chickens, this is a non-trivial problem...:-)

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 150. At 03:06am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    Dan Allen, you said in post #73 "...Greece needs to drop out of the euro now. It should not take part in Germany's S&M exercise by taking on loans at rates it can't pay back. It needs to go to the IMF and talk about restructuring debt. This will likely lead to it getting booted out of the Eurozone, but it's the only answer..."

    1) Germany is not forcing loans on Greece at rates that are higher than market rates, Greece is asking Germany and others for loans at rates that are lower than market rates.
    2) IMF is not a soft option. After it's locked the cellar door, wiped down its apron and told Greece to rub the lotion in its skin or else to get the hose again, it'll give Greece a debt restruction that'll leave it flinching for decades.
    3) Greece cannot be forced out of the Eurozone without its consent, period.

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 151. At 03:11am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    generalissimo, you said in post #22 "...high time to reconsider the Lisbon treaty in its fiscal chapters in order to stipulate clearly and definitely all the conditions of treating such unpleasant and dangerous for the mere existence of EU cases...".

    OK, so that's get 27 heads of government to agree on a treaty (call it a year if they rush), multiple upper and lower houses to OK it (say 18 months), then hold referenda in Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, wherever (one year), then hold another referendum for the ones that failed (18 months), get reapproval from those set of governments who have held elections in the meantime (six months minimum), then get the 27 heads of state to sign (six months to a year). So if they start today, the Treaties of Rome will be amended by, say, late 2016. And that's if everything goes right.

    Or they could just hang it on an accession/minor amendment treaty and hope nobody notices...:-) (Isn't there one due soon for the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba or whatever?).

    Of course, if the Lisbon Treaty really *did* have the ability to rewrite itself like many said, we wouldn't have this problem. But it didn't, so we do.

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 152. At 03:12am on 25 Mar 2010, Total_Dude wrote:

    147. MaudDib
    I recon, 'cept fer in Euorpe, the south is the yankees.

    " When we had civilization you were digging with your hands. Without us you are NOTHING. When we were talking about philosophy and mathematics you did not know anything more than WAR "

    The South Will Ride Again!

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  • 153. At 03:12am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    generalissimo, you said in post #22 "...How do you think the Brits will escape whatever contribution to some kind of rescue plan that is aimed at saving both the Euro and of the whole EU? Or, you will cite me again what Gordon Brown said several weeks ago, namely, that the problem concerns the euro zone..."

    The British will (correctly: it's a Euro-16 problem) refuse to contribute to any overt bail-out of Greece. However, should any money go to Greece/Portugal/whatever in a purely coincidental movement of money, then it may contribute some. Of course, it may just leave it to the IMF, and hope nobody notices that the UK is the 4th biggest contributor to the IMF.

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 154. At 03:16am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote:

    Menedemus, you said in post #10 "...English by parenthood, born of Scotland, British by nationality, European by location but I can never have allegiance to the European Union which is simply a political construct..."

    "British" is a political construct, period. It's England and Scotland jammed together in 1707, with Ireland welded on in 1801 (with most of it dropping off again in the 1920's), and Wales gradually (re)emerging since. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 1707 and 1801 Acts of Union were performed by the relevant Parliaments with little/no regard to the opinion of the peoples in question.

    Regards, viewcode.

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  • 155. At 04:19am on 25 Mar 2010, hassan wrote:

    The thing that hurt Germans is Paris always try to twist the EU rules....
    It seems ackward that if a country who didnt fulfill the criteria as in case Greece should be expelled out of EU..The world is going through a recesssion period and so is Germany..though they tried to come out of this crises but still its the shock and their possible way to avoid such kind of crises by securing their deficit and earnings..
    they are always concerned about EU, but when it comes for reward or time to show up the comitments they demanded, it was over ruled by french interest and policies..Germans are firstly germans, than Europeans..
    and their people comes first than others..though they did alot for EU and till now, but they dont want to give free hand and want to set an example as a part of better future term planning...As french and other nations are just trying to get out of the current situation not realizing how hard it can go. They indeed have to see the middle way.It can also be a set stage to push germany to increase its spending and give a chance for other countries to have some export in Germany.

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  • 156. At 04:23am on 25 Mar 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    152. Total_Dude
    Well...now I'm confused. Being from Alaska and all.

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  • 157. At 04:39am on 25 Mar 2010, Total_Dude wrote:

    are you confused about the Yankees, the quote from earlier in the thread (#139, I forgot to provide attribution), or the south riding again?

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  • 158. At 05:06am on 25 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #149 Viewcode,
    I am happy to read your contribution. Instead of being emotional or going back to Socrates it is political in a wise way.
    A bail out in the kind that has been suggested and discussed so far, in particularly a bail out where Germany swallows the deficit of a handful of countries, is inconsistent with the treaty, and Germany undoubtedly see itself protected by the treaty here.

    Secondly: As it has been pointed out here the circle of IMF donators is very different from the Euro-16 group, and seen from the point of view of the latter the IMF solution will spread out the risc - and the burden. There are in other words a number of arguments in favour of the IMF solution, and German television said Wednesday evening that Germany’s preferred solution was getting increased support in Bruxelles. I should say that this solution in the last end can result in bail outs since it is a model of escalating means.

    You are right that “there's always a workaround”. That is a political statement. So is this: No matter how you mask a bail out it will be seen as a bail out by the German voters, and they don’t like it. (Something for the many populists here.)
    As I said in #80: The German boulevard paper, Bild Zeitung, has today a photo montage showing chancellor Merkel and a translation of "no" in all languages of the union.

    Also, what very few seem to know here: There are elections in Nordrhein-Westphalen within weeks. With 16 mio inhabitants it is the largest of the federal states in Germany and larger than many European nation states. If Merkel’s party loses here, and that is not unlikely, she can lose the majority in the second chamber of the German parliament.
    Yet another factor is Germany’s debt etc. etc.

    Those, who have said here that Hewitt has dramatised his article and we should all calm down, are right. Sarkozy has just had a heavy defeat by the regional elections in France, and he is a tempered man. Merkel is cool. So are a number of the other leaders, and we have every reason to believe that they will prevail.

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  • 159. At 05:09am on 25 Mar 2010, Frank_F wrote:

    @ 86 SuperJulianR

    I was about to report your post, however i decided to answer.

    You are obviously frustrated about the fact that a lot of Pro-EU commentators are disappointed about Merkel's firm stance which makes, admittedly, Germany look all of a sudden quite unsupportive for the European project, even selfish. The reason why she acts like this, you argue, are not rational considerations but her "East-German mentality". Then you describe East-Germans as selfish, greedy and envious people who brought down the Berlin wall not because they wanted to live in freedom and without permanent surveillance but to rob and leech off West-Germans. Further, you insinuate that East-Germans are generally not in favour of the EU because "their priorities are different". This might be true (also for West-Germans) however there has never been a proper poll, infact institutes like Forsa, Allensbach, Infratest/dimap and the likes seem to avoid polls on important EU related issues. Hence your claim isn't based on actual figures/data but solely on widespread West-German stereotypes and so is your whole, utterly vile attempt to make us East-Germans look like "those bad Germans/Krauts" who can be blamed for, well, everything whereas West-Germans should be perceived as "good guys" who learned their lesson. From your perspective it's probably ok (and comfortable) to do so because, after all, East-Germans aren't, say, Turks and therefore one doesn't appear to be xenophobic or racist while referring to "something in their blood", no?

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  • 160. At 05:32am on 25 Mar 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    viewcode @#154

    I do not disagree. My Passport gives me the nationality of British and makes me a United Kingdom citizen. Both are constructs.

    Hence I only allude to my "nationality" being British. My passport could give me nationality for the Planet Ork and make me an Orkan for all I care for 'being' British.

    nanu nanu

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  • 161. At 05:36am on 25 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    viewcode;

    "The Euro is a symptom of a problem, rather than a problem per se."

    The problem is the stupidity of compounding the ego driven desire to create an empire that is a world power from the shattered incoherent remains of a war ravaged continent and binding it together with a single currency tying these incoherent incompatable economies, cultures, and peoples together without any mechanism to deal with such a crisis because the hubris of those who created it never were willing to accept the possibility that failure in such a crisis could occur. Compound that with the corruption that jettisoned the Growth and Stability Pact as an enforcable law with teeth in the form of severe fines and an unwillingness to thoroughly audit anything of consequence because the results might jeopardize "the project" and those who would have to vote for audits were so corrupt themsleves that if the audits were extended to them personally they'd fail too and you had the perfect recipe for the stew Europe now finds itself in.

    Neither the IMF nor Germany was ever designed to bail out nations facing the nature or magnitude of problems that the EU now confronts. At best it would be selective in its assistance and from an overall picture would therefore fail. All the kings horses and all the kings men, won't put this Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

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  • 162. At 06:02am on 25 Mar 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    MAII @#161

    I don't disagree with your assessment of the bind that the Euro nations (and thus the EU) finds itself in.

    Its a pickle of mamoth proportions and I do not believe that the Eurozone nations have the collective wealth to guarantee Greece to cheap 3% interest rate loans that the Greeks are seeking - the risks of the Greeks defaulting on their loans still remains too high.

    I have always presumed though that is a single nation, in this case Greece, were to apply to the IMF that help would be forthcoming as the IMF has (a) the necessary independent wealth availble through its benefactor nations and (b) the technical proficiencies that are absent of malice or political ineptitude that would hinder any recsue package mounted by the Eurozone politicians.

    Are you suggesting that the IMF can pick and choose who it helps?

    I wonder as, although I agree with your assessment of the hubirs that led to the creation of the EU without any thoughts about the failure or inherent weaknesses of the artificial construct that IS the EU, Greec is a sovereign nation and is an economic basket case that needs finacial and economic expert support. Thats what the IMF is there for is it not?

    The fact is that the (as viecode quite rightly suggests at #150) "IMF is not a soft option. After it's locked the cellar door, wiped down its apron and told Greece to rub the lotion in its skin or else to get the hose again, it'll give Greece a debt restruction that'll leave it flinching for decades.

    But this is the medicine that Greece needs. It is what Germany 'politically' thinks is right for Greece (and, indeed any of the PIIG nations).

    What you make me wonder is whether the IMF can actually say "No" if Greece does ask for IMF support because, in your words, "Neither the IMF nor Germany was ever designed to bail out nations facing the nature or magnitude of problems that the EU now confronts. At best it would be selective in its assistance and from an overall picture would therefore fail. All the kings horses and all the kings men, won't put this Humpty-Dumpty back together again.".

    If you are right, and I don't know whther your are or not, if the IMF does not have the wherewithal or willingness to help Greece, then perhaps Portugal which is now also heading down the tubes ..... what is the point of having the IMF?

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  • 163. At 06:41am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #162,

    Even better, what is the point of having capitalism? EU, IMF, Eurozone, etc. nothing appears to work:))

    Economic anarchy is the only solution:)

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  • 164. At 06:49am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    Ohh also,

    Some people that posted here need help to understand themselves. They say "I don't feel any more union solidarity towards the Greeks than I would feel towards Argentinians, or South Africans, (or whatever nationality not important)" then they turn around and cry "the Greeks belong to a club and they didn't show solidarity by keeping to the rules" make up your minds either you want solidarity or not.

    As for breaking the rules all Eurozone countries (-LUX)are breaking the rules wake up.

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  • 165. At 07:53am on 25 Mar 2010, sebhel wrote:

    How does the US dollar work when it is used in so many countries? Where it trumps the local currency. Are there more US dollars abroad than at home?
    Is the euro a threat to the dollar suppremacy and might there be a conflict which would give a hidden agenda to dollar supporters/euro detractors?

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  • 166. At 08:06am on 25 Mar 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @ 151 & 153 Viewcode
    I thank you for your detailed answer. I have allowed myself to comment what Gavin Hewitt had presented as his view point. I remained with the impression that the UK was totally indifferent to the present situation of the EU. At least, the spirit of the said article suggested that what happened in the mainland did not concern the Brits(!?).
    Well, I should agree that the eventual “refurbishment” of the Lisbon Treaty will take several years. But have we got other choice? The treaty is not perfect. The European Union is quite vulnerable in case the Greek crisis will be followed by other similar economic disasters. If the political will of all the member states is aimed at a further gradual transformation of the EU into a more perfect political entity, then logically, some radical transformations should be done in this field.... Better late than never.
    I agree that the IMF should intervene in Greece favour. /Consequently the rating of the EU will go down along with the Euro exchange rate. It’s inevitable. In a way, that’s good for the competitiveness of the EU export!/ I agree also that GB, being the fourth contributor to the IMF will indirectly assist the Greek authorities in recovering the economy and the fiscal balance.

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  • 167. At 08:28am on 25 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Viewcode

    Re #154

    Broadly agree with Your interpretation of the 'construction' of the UK: Except of course the actual Historical links go back over many Centuries.
    Absolutely agree with the view the UK has since the 'Acts on Union' gradually eased off from those political agreements made predominantly without reference to local National groupings.

    Thus, we reach the EUropean Union: A 'political construct' hardly referenced by the Citizens (although Centuries of links) since its inception.

    Now, the difference from the UK: The EU continues without any reference to its Citizens & no easing off of 'Acts of Union'; indeed, on the contrary, even less consultation/concern for Citizens' views & ever increasing encroachment on the local National groupings.

    Recipe for rebellion & disaster!

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  • 168. At 09:16am on 25 Mar 2010, haufdeed wrote:

    cool_brush_work re 167

    As a Scot, I can assure you that the EU was constructed a great deal more democratically than the UK. Why, I even remember voting in a referendum back in the 70's! Scotland was, by contrast,dragged kicking and screaming into a totally destructive "union" with England, which was nothing less than an annexation,engineered by the wholesale bribing of Scotland's upper house. The only prior "Historical Links" between England and Scotland were those characteristic of any small country with a large bully for a neighbour- invasion and war.
    The EU is a very imperfect union, but at least it was formed with the consent of its members.

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  • 169. At 09:29am on 25 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ChrisArta

    Your 'humble pie' is duly noted - - if only for its loneliness (!).

    However, I would say as the 'Disunity' precipice approaches I tend to go along with those on here who assume Germany will 'climb down' a bit. This will have France as the frontispiece (with Berlin writing the orderly rubric behind the scenes) for presentation purposes & EU14/15 backing enabling some sort of deviation-deal allowing Greece (therefore also the EUro-zone & Brussels' reputation) to be saved.
    From that will come ALL EU27 declaring to the World there never was any crisis within the 'Union', it is destined to go from strength-to-strength, there is unanimity of purpose. Most significantly, Barroso, von Rompuy & other key glory/gravy-train apparatchiks will explain how the teething problems of EUro-zone simply need Brussels to acquire a few MORE trappings of authority & power over the whole Membership for the EU to be even more of a brilliantly, perfectly, wonderfully concocted Political entity.

    The one voice that will most definitely NOT be listened to or even allowed much air-time will be the Citizens of EUrope - - No, that is most assuredly NOT on any EU agenda - - it simply CANNOT risk the 'hoi polloi' expressing a view of any sort.

    Ho-hum... and so the unmerry-helter-skelter descent into captivity will continue...

    for awhile longer...

    in this decade,

    AND then?

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  • 170. At 09:34am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 171. At 10:05am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    My comment @170 was deemed to have broken 'house rules'. I shall try to re-phrase it.

    In a display of patriotic fervour GreekRightWing @139 wrote: "Greece is for Greeks."

    Well, you are very welcome to it!

    But do note that with the exception of linguistic vestiges, there is little relationship between modern Greece and the great civilisation that was Ancient Greece.

    The Papandreous and Karamanlises of today sure ain't no Pericles' or Lysanders.... . The very thought of any real continuum between Ancient Greece and today's shambles is enough to give rise to cutting Swiftian observations and make one gaffaw aloud in derision.

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  • 172. At 10:19am on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 173. At 10:28am on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    I am not pro-German because "I believe everything they say" - I´m not particularly pro-any nation. However, there is no-way that the German people will accept bailing out a nation whose people earn a 14 month salary, retire earlier than in Germany, shorter working week etc.

    The German people are just fed-up shelling out money to the rest of Europe. And it appears that the Dutch and the Swedes are being awfully quiet too, because they too are net payers. It has been written that this is a give and take situation. So the rest of Europe takes whilst less than a handful of people pay. Britain still receives a rebate! France likewise does not pay its dues, but has a relatively robust economy. So what is this. A country is put on probation because it has broken the rules. The moment that period is lifted - they go straight ahead and break the rules again. If Greece were a person and not a country they would be heading for Jail! They lied on entry and suddenly it is not their fault, but the rest of the Unions. I lie to my bank and it is fraud - it doesn´t suddenly become the bank´s fault.

    The Union is nothing as far as I can see, but a bunch of free-loaders. You appear to think that the Dutch, German and Swedish people can pay for ever, whilst the rest of Europe throws prudence to the wind. Well in my street - there is a drop-off point where German families on Herz IV - approx 300-400 Euro per month can pick-up food parcels. And you want these people to accept a Greek bailout. Get real!

    Maastricht says that no country has to pay for the debts of another. Merkel knows if she agrees to a bail-out and this one comes to court and it will - it is likely that she will lose!

    The German people (not big business or government) just won´t have it. Whilst they´ve lived with an artificially raised pro-capita rate in the EU for years. They see country´s like the UK - during boom years - still receiving a rebate - whilst they struggled to pay for eastern reconstruction. They restructed their Eastern Economy at a huge cost to the people - it was bloody - other EU countries´ efforts to reconstruct came no-where near. The unemployment rates were and in some cases still are brutal. Many western Germans are very sour that their communities have not been able to pay for their own infrastructure as a consequence - plus they had to pay an extra levy for unification.

    Because what most people fail to understand is that Germans are in it for the long-term - not looking at short-term profits. They believe in training, preventative healthcare policies, saving, a stabile (sometimes boring) socio-economic structure. It is pretty much what everyone buys into - it is a highly disciplined society at all levels. Yes they will be savvy business people but after the office Dad or Mum comes home and invests time (not money) in his/her family and children - as part of his routine. The emphasis on routine.

    Ex-Chancellor Schroeder does not live in some luxury house - he was able to purchase a Terrace House after his stint in office! Frau Merkel not a fashion Ikon! Their image is all about the sustainable, the ordinary, the robust, durability. It is a mindset. Now take a look at other countries in the union.

    So when a German hears the French government recently saying that the Germans ought to become less efficient - because it would be good for Europe. What does that say to your average German, who is at work at 7.30 everyday (same for school-children)- puts in an 8 hour shift plus 2 hours overtime (as my husband and his colleagues do everyday) - who spend their life worrying about house-insulation - global-warming and the quality of breadrolls, beer, cars etc! Whilst my friends were complaining in the UK about their streets being inaccessible because of snow - lack of salt etc. I and thousands of other Germans (bankers, doctors, unemployed, teachers, shop-keepers etc etc) were out at 7.00am or before clearing their part of the street - so that it would be accessible. We had to do that for approximately 3 months - no-one complained - no-one asked - no-one paid us - we all did it. It is called discipline!

    Wake up - your worries are not Mrs Merkel. They are the German people - they´ve had enough. Enough of discrimination. Enough of subsidising their neighbours´ imprudence. Enough of being taken for a ride. If you want your streets to be clear of snow - wake up in the morning and shovel. The same applies to your economies!

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  • 174. At 10:32am on 25 Mar 2010, Tree wrote:

    50. At 3:05pm on 24 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:
    #31

    If they are forced out why would they (or anyone else for that matter) bother getting back in the Euro? What's in it for them? Can't you see the non-logical statement that you are making here?

    what you are saying is: "if you have a problem been part of the Euro will not help you, the Euro-club is useless" not a very good advert for the Euro.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Non-logical it might be, but it would appear that a lot of the member-states are being illogical when it comes to this whole thing. By taking out a loan from the ECB/IMF, it's just going to make things worse, because it just adds to the existing debt owed by Greece, meaning they'll almost never get out of their current situation.

    Anyway, all I'm saying is that if they do end up getting shut out of the Euro, then there should be an option for them to get back in, should they want to. If they don't see a benefit to it, then that's fine - they wouldn't be under obligation to - and they can stick to whatever they feel is right. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

    As for your second point, no, you're just twisting my words. What I'm trying to convey is that economies which share a joint currency should be sustainable, and in the case of Greece's economy, it isn't. By having failing economies which share a currency, it's only going to bring the value of said currency down, which isn't very beneficial for countries that rely on imports rather than exports, which a lot of the European countries are. Therefore, because the currency was created as a means of economically benefitting all of the countries that use it, then it could be seen as counter-productive to keep unfortunate debt-ridden countries like Greece in it. To use an analogy, it's like doing a team project, where, say, three of the four people working on it are bringing a lot of value to the team and the other isn't. It means that the one person not bringing anything to the table saps the energy, productivity and effectiveness out of the team. This isn't to blast Greece or go along with any stereotypes here - it's simply how the situation seems at face value. There are good people in the team, but there are one or two that are inadvertently sapping its effectiveness. That's all I'm saying.

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  • 175. At 10:35am on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    re.171: Max sceptic, Greekrightwing might be a young man fed up of this sick situation of Greeks having to endure an imposed dictatorship in all bu the name, of having to pay for loans and projects that made others (largely including Germans) rich, and then be called on the top as "lazy" (for being unemployed), and corrupted (for being robbed, and for being unable to convince the justice to punish the thief...).

    It is not just Greece for Greeks, Italy for Italians, France for French. It is first of all, your lands and your house for you and your family, the ressources in your region for you and your co-citizens first of all... and that is exactly what is at stake, not just in Greece but all over the world including the large countries. Greeks are now under attack even direct menace of military attacks - note also all the hatred and venom of only those neighbouring countries that are US backed at this moment (Turkey, FYROM, Albania): they are wrong of course but they do resemble like voltures smelling the blood of the wounded). But all Europeans are under attack too. And even in the US people feel they are under attack and they are not sure of the continuity of their way of living.

    Now look at you. This is a financial issue. What do you sit and respond to this young man? With ridiculous accusations of Greeks not being Greeks and other such weird stuff. If Greeks were not Greeks really you would not even mention it here as an accusation, it would be a fact not an accusation with a demeaning intention - should I refer you to what Kissinger said about Greeks?

    Now your comparison of Papandreou and Karamanlis with Pericles is of no value. Not to mention that Giorgakis Papandreou is not only of US citizenship but even tribally, he is hardly of any Greek origins. Any South Italian or original southern French has more Greek ancestry than Papandreou. Do not want to emphasise on that again and again but that is the way it is, we cannot change reality. As for Karamanlis, both uncle and nephew, they might have been negative for the country - the uncle was forced even to betray the country but at least they cannot be held lower than those Greeks (Athenians, Rhodians, Pergamians, Achaian League, Aetolian League) that sold all Greeks to Romans for their own little profit, or the Komnenians and the Doukes who sold the whole Empire to Italians.

    Just avoid opening a discussion on which you do not know a lot and which you are bound to lose.

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  • 176. At 10:37am on 25 Mar 2010, commonsense_expressway wrote:

    #168

    Well you've had 300 years to drum up enough support to get out of the "destructive" Union. Scots have been back-seat-driving the UK since the beginning of Empire and with the birth of the Labour Party, actually running it since 1945. By proxy, it gives you UN security council permanent membership(with veto), the chance to play with the 6th largest economy in the world, and have an influence on NATO, the Commonwealth, the EU and the US.

    Anway, you've already had your revenge even if you dont get independence. England technically doesnt even exist anymore, seeing as it has no representative government. And as long as its patriotic to say you are "Scottish not British" but politically incorrect to say "English not British",you've conquered us and dont even realise it. Please go independent, so we can be set free.

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  • 177. At 10:38am on 25 Mar 2010, Christopher Alain Jones wrote:

    Comparing the corruption of German companies with the corruption of the Greek state is just unfair!

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  • 178. At 10:42am on 25 Mar 2010, commonsense_expressway wrote:

    #154

    Yes Britain and the UK is a forced political construct. Go back far enough in history and so is England,France, Germany and the US for example. Being a political construct in itself should not hinder the development of the EU, its whether or not there is the will of the people to do so.

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  • 179. At 10:45am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Annie @173,

    Well said - but expect a lot of flak: the truth hurts.

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  • 180. At 10:55am on 25 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #173
    Hi Annie,

    You are mixing a couple of things. The Euro concerns 16 (+1 associated) countries.
    The net payers in the EU are another group of countries. Go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8036097.stm#start and select net contribution to see the list of 13 countries above the water mark (those, which pay more than they receive back) and the rest, the net beneficiaries, below.
    Greece is the largest net beneficiary at the bottom here.

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  • 181. At 10:57am on 25 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Annie, one thing more from the statistics:
    "If each country's net contribution is divided by its population you get a figure for how much that country contributes or receives per citizen.

    This graphic shows that though Germany is the biggest net contributor its large population means the tax burden for each citizen is lower than for Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark."

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  • 182. At 11:05am on 25 Mar 2010, commonsense_expressway wrote:

    #173

    If Britain didnt get a rebate, she would be effectively spending £3billion per year directly subsidising French farmers.

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  • 183. At 11:09am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Nik @175,

    Nik, I know enough about most things to support my prejudices! ;-)

    As for opening a discussion: if you don't know what my objectives are, how can you be certain that I will "lose"?

    But please don't take it all too personally. As soon as this Greek Tragedy is over we'll start dismantling one of the other PIIGS.

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  • 184. At 11:16am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    Whoever it is that think the Siemens and Mercedes stories are big news - I would challenge them to show me any big corporation that has never bent the rules/broken the law. You will not find any.

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  • 185. At 11:17am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #177. At 10:38am on 25 Mar 2010, Christopher Alain Jones wrote:

    "Comparing the corruption of German companies with the corruption of the Greek state is just unfair!"

    I'd go a step further and say that both Greeks & Germans proved to be corrupt!!

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  • 186. At 11:25am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #174

    @ Tree

    From where I'm watching this drama unfold, it is obvious to me that no one player is doing any good:))

    From the 16 Eurozone coutries 15 do not meet the criteria!! So why on earth they don't all get together and say: "we have a problem here, lets do something about it" but instead they say: "Look - look at him/her he/she is worse than me!" What country in the Eurozone is meeting the criteria today or has not broken them in the past???

    All this Greece vs Germany issue is nonsense

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  • 187. At 11:34am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    Annie @173

    Yet after all this snow clearing effort Germany still doesn't meet Eurozone criteria :))

    Maybe you should had started clearing snow at 5:30??

    what on earth are you barking about? You provided no facts for the figures you dish out to us and you just wants us to pray to the wonderful German discipline, please get a live!!!

    Or you want us to take you seriously please provide us with some links to look at facts instead of emotions.

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  • 188. At 11:47am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    184. At 11:16am on 25 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "Whoever it is that think the Siemens and Mercedes stories are big news - I would challenge them to show me any big corporation that has never bent the rules/broken the law. You will not find any."

    The story itself is not that big, but it proves that Germans & Greeks are both corrupt and so the rest of us should avoid doing business with corrupt Greeks or Germans

    I can't see why German corruption is better that Greek corruption! It is probably even worse much better made than Greek corruption, hastly put together.

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  • 189. At 11:52am on 25 Mar 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    149. At 03:04am on 25 Mar 2010, viewcode wrote: However, there's nothing stopping the EU qua EU funnelling shedloads of cash to Greece/Portugal/wherever on, you know, purely coincidental grounds. and sulks.

    Nothing? I think the net contributor nations are going to disagree with you. And so do the EU treaties that do not allow the EU to 'funnel shedloads of cash to anyone for anything on, you know, purely coincidental grounds'.

    It's Europe. There's always a workaround. The only limiting factor is getting the heads of governments of the EU-27 or Euro-16 to agree. Since they're currently running around like headless chickens, this is a non-trivial problem...:-)

    It's the EU, so obviously they are frantically looking for a way to ignore the peoples once again, and find a 'workaround'. I find this arrogance astounding. They just got this Lisbon treaty thingy in force, you know that treaty the politicians wanted but the peoples did not. And it has hardly been in force for a few months, and already the EU-crowd wants 'workarounds' because it turns out the treaty doesn't do what they thought it would, but instead does what people like me told you it would (namely: make things worse).
    The reason for that is that people like me not only read the darn thing, but we understood it too. Unlike EU-philes most of whom would blindly vote for anything the EU came up with, without bothering to check the contents.
    They wanted Lisbon, so now we insist they play by its rules.

    What they might try is the European Court of Justice. The ECJ has been deliberately stuffed with federalists (being a federalist is a requirement for appointment to ECJ) and has been the driving force of integration for decades now. This is what few people understand. The ECJ has quite a history of coming up with cockamamy explanations of EU treaties in order to justify 'more EU'. Whenever a case arose of nation vs EU, it always sides with 'EU'. I do not see any other workaround.

    The most amazing thing about these 'workarounds' is, that the EU is actually proud if it manages to find one. And that EU-philes encourage it to do so.

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  • 190. At 11:59am on 25 Mar 2010, oliderid wrote:

    Frankly I understand the Germans. They have reformed their economy, they took austerity measures for a decade long. They work longer, etc. Greece should take the same path. Of course loans should be given, but the IMF or the EU countries will impose the same kind of measures : austerity, reforms and reduce your debts.

    There is no magic, it will be tears and sweat.

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  • 191. At 12:05pm on 25 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    haufdeed

    Re #168

    Try this exercise in factual Land Acquisition research:
    Highland clearances? Yes! Mostly done by Lowland Scots (You'll have heard of the 'braid Scots'?)? Yes!
    Or, if You prefer, the Economic argument:
    Until 1355 Scottish & English coinage were of equal value? Yes! By 1603 (King James VI/1) Scottish pound was worth One-Twelfth of an English Pound? Yes!
    Thus a year or so after 'Union' the Scottish 'Mint' to no one's surprise closed down (1709)!

    ".. (into Union) kicking & screaming.." Ah, must be the Mel 'Jock' Gibson version of events: As opposed to the various vested interests 'north' of the border doing deals with the various vested interests 'south' of the border (such as it was circa 1700) to bring about a Union by which Your Scottish ancestors who took the English coinage did very well indeed. Oh, but they were of course not real Scots - - no, no, everyone an enemy of the Jacobins, weren't they!?

    In the 21st Century with all the annals, documents etc. now available on the subject it really will not do for Scots such as yourself to continue with this school-book fiction that the Scottish Parliament didn't know what it was doing when it voted for 'Union' with the English Parliament!

    In the 20th Century: Sorry, but I cannot take too seriously the idea of the Scottish all being weighed down by perfidious Englanders: Even You mention a 'referendum' in the '70s! Erm, so who do you think took part in the vote?

    However, indisputable 21st Century facts are facts: Scotland has a devolved Parliament with Tax-raising powers & its led by a Scottish Nationalist Party Government.
    If modern day Scotland doesn't get full 'independence' (which I wholly support as it will free the English of the northern encumbrance) in this decade will it be by Your traditional lament, 'all the fault of London', or, will you be grown up enough to accept not enough Citizens of Scotland were in line with your views on the matter?

    Personally, I say Scotland has to make its own choices & way in the World: The sooner the moribund United Kingdom folds so England & the English can have their own Parliament (The English are the ONLY UK 'Nation' without an independent elected representative institution) and go about their affairs without anything but fraternal greetings to those 'north', 'west' and 'Irish' on the borders the better for ALL concerned.

    As for Your views on the formation of the EU: They are as inaccurate in substance as Your attempted hijacking of centuries of Anglo-Scottish relations.

    Be that as it may, if Scotland truly wants to go direct from a 'Union' of '4' (60,000,000) to a 'Union of '27' (500,000,000+) because it really thinks it will get a better hearing and more fair treatment then let it do so! That Scots such as yourself would choose Brussels over Edinburgh/London is an indication of the lack of 'political' nouse existing 'north' of the border for several decades post-WW2.

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  • 192. At 12:07pm on 25 Mar 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    Greece2000@ 81

    Good effort, but we have learned the hard way not to trust statistics about Greece any more :-)

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  • 193. At 12:15pm on 25 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    187. At 11:34am on 25 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:

    Annie @173

    ...

    You provided no facts for the figures you dish out to us ... German ...

    Or you want us to take you seriously please provide us with some links to look at facts instead of emotions ..."

    EUpris: I believe the moderators will not allow her to give links to German language pages/sites.

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  • 194. At 12:25pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    ChrisArta, of course the Germans vs. Greeks issue it is just nonsense. And down to the basics if Germans knew how disproportionately in relation to the size of Greece their economy benefited and if they really realised that Greece never asked them any money (as smart Angela tries to tell them to play the "iron-lady"), they would in fact themselves take out of their wallets and give. But nobody asked them to do so, certainly not Greeks.

    It is an irony. Germans protest that Greeks broke the rules yet if Greeks followed the rules, German companies now would have smaller command lists. Greece migh be quite small as a country to make any difference but 2-3 countries more like Greece (EU or non EU) and German economy would start seeing the difference and German citizens would certainly feel the pinch.

    Chris Camp, what is the final difference between companies breaking the rules and state breaking the rules? In this example of Germany vs. Greece, perhaps it was convenient for Germans to tolerate their own private companies' ocrruption that was feeding Greek public corruption, since that had a beneficial effect over German business. And now, what they do is the protest over Greek corruption that themselves at least partially but very significantly have fed all those years.
    Remember:
    Olymics 2004
    => given to Greece with 1 vote difference
    => last vote was of Germans
    => Final budget: 3 times the original cost
    => Major constructors and suppliers: German companies

    And Olympics is a major but still just 1 of the many large-scale projects that went on like that. All the above happened at the same time when Europeans, and first of all Germans, were welcoming Greece into the eurozone. So... what was their idea? What?

    All Europeans have to stop treating your politicians and you businessmen as little idiots fooled by the cunning cheating Greek politicians... Greek politicians cannot even protect the basics of our own, let alone fool Europeans. What Greek politicians were doing was in 100% compliance with what the majority or, if you want, the power majority of European politics wanted. Since 1978 there was never any genuine will of EEC/EU to let Greece develop. When they were giving "blindly" the sums of money to Andreas Papandreou they knew exactly what they were doing.

    MaxSceptic, you know nothing and you know you will lose the discussion (I would not say "you will lose the argument because you do not have any argumentation in the first place". Be careful: here you are lucky to speak with Greeks who are free-minded people opposing fanatiscims and other such complexes and who are not known to abide faithfully to any political correctness which they see as tyranny. But my advice to you is to avoid viciously fallacious civilisational attacks - I do not want here to start reminding you where that tactic comes from, last time it prevailed, millions died.

    So getting back to the financial side of the issue:
    you say "... we'll start dismantling one other country of the PIGS"... So when you say "we", to whom exactly do you refer?

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  • 195. At 12:26pm on 25 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    173. At 10:28am on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    " ... Britain still receives a rebate! ..."

    EUpris: Annie, the link which Mathiasen supplied* does indeed indicate that the UK is the second largest contributor to the budget of the "EU"-Dictatorship.

    The rebate thing is something which Germans have "used on me" in the past. Even if it were to be the case that the UK got money from the "EU" I would still not want to be part of it. If you are German, then please get to work in Germany to get the UK thrown out of the "EU".

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8036097.stm#start

    Thank you, Mathiasen!

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  • 196. At 12:27pm on 25 Mar 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    ChrisArta,
    You are welcome to tell everybody about you knowledge and perhaps confuse some. However, you can be sure that Greece politicans know and all the other politicians know this:

    GREECE IS THE LARGEST BENEFICIARY OF EU MONEY OF ALL EU MEMBER STATES.

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  • 197. At 12:34pm on 25 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    173. At 10:28am on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    "I am not pro-German because "I believe everything they say" - I´m not particularly pro-any nation. However, there is no-way that the German people will accept bailing out a nation whose people earn a 14 month salary, retire earlier than in Germany, shorter working week etc.

    The German people are just fed-up shelling out money to the rest of Europe. ..."

    EUpris:

    1) I didn't ask the to pay for the "EU"-Rubbish! Neither did other British opponents of the "EU", at least as far as I am aware.

    2) "the rest of Europe." You probably mean the "EU". The "EU" is still not Europe.

    3) Are you German? Do you live in Germany? Where do you get all the knowledge that entitles you to write "The German people are just fed-up shelling out money to the rest of Europe" ? Is this from talking to people in Germany or is it from some sort of opinion poll?

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  • 198. At 12:46pm on 25 Mar 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    187. At 11:34am on 25 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:

    "Annie @173

    Yet after all this snow clearing effort Germany still doesn't meet Eurozone criteria :))

    Maybe you should had started clearing snow at 5:30??"

    EUpris: The snow clearing thingy was one of a number of laws and regulations that a Brit or any other Anglo-Saxon could, I guess, not imagine existing. So when I lived in Germany, I was always walking around with this feeling: "There is some stupid law I am breaking! I don't know what the hell it is and I don't want to be breaking it, but I bet I am. Any moment some big-mouthed German policeman is going to be screaming at me again. I am frightened that one day I will punch a big-mouthed German policeman in the face."

    So returning to the UK was a relief. Having said that there are some German regulations I approve of: German child protection laws. Tighter control over dogs. I never seen anybody sleeping rough in the city centres. I feel safer in German cities at night than in the UK because of the large number of policemen. AND I haven't had a German policeman scream at me for years.

    AND of course I miss the vastly superior health service.

    Learn from the Germans, YES!

    Don't let Bossy Boots Merkel impose German laws on us!

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  • 199. At 12:54pm on 25 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The EU and especially the Euro reminda me of another European construction, the Titanic. Remember the Titanic? It was the largest of its kind in the world in its day as I recall (?) It was also unsinkable. It hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank anyway, the ship didn't know it was unsinkable. There also weren't enough lifeboats and so many of the passengers drowned. The Euro has been in existance for what, about 10 years? This is its first storm and it has hit an iceberg. And if it doesn't get outside help it may sink as well. There are also not enough lifeboats, in fact except for taking the German's cake and giving some of it away to Greece and the other piggies, an outside rescue seems the only remaining hope.

    So only the IMF, the shining white knight on a shining white steed is strong enough and stupid enough to try to save the not so fair damsel in distress? And who is that shining white knight? The US at least in part. Except guess what, that knight is having serious problems of his own at the moment and so is his horse. There's now a sharp limit to the available fuel to feed that horse and the knight can barely get on its own feet.

    Why is it America's problem to rescue Greece if it is not Germany job? Greece is not a third world country, a developing nation of the kind the IMF was intended for. Greece should be among the donors, not the recipients. The IMF does and can help nations get back on their feet with loans that must be paid back and the strictest conditions imposed to see to it that is possible. But if the recipient nation will not accede to those conditions, the IMF is not forced to help. When considering whether or not the IMF will come to Greece's rescuse, it seems it may only be part of the effort. Whose debt will be paid back first, the IMF's or other EU nations? Where does the IMF's mandate end, at Greece or must it save the other PIIGS too? It would seem to be the first step into quicksand, small wonder Germany doesn't want to take it alone. How characteristic of France to demand the EU bail out Greece paying back loans to French banks with German money. Perhaps if the banks were Hong Kong banks, France wouldn't care at all if they were paid back.

    An so the squabble between the first mate and the ship's captain ensues while the vessel takes on water. The fall in the Euro so far is merely an expression of market concern. The real panic if it is to come hasn't set in yet.

    Greece is not a sovereign state anymore Menedemus. It signed away that sovereignty when it lost control over printing its own currency and control over its borders, two hallmarks of sovereignty. It along with Germany, France, and the rest of Euroland are one big country now whether they know it or not. And no, Lisbon did not create a central governing body to mismanage the whole thing, it has been mismanaged up to now by complete anarchy that allows the winds and tides alone to steer it, now it seems against the rocks.

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  • 200. At 12:59pm on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #196

    @Mathiasen,

    I don't give a rats about the Greeks or the Germans.

    I just had enough of perfect german discipline claims & Greeks public servants:))

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  • 201. At 1:00pm on 25 Mar 2010, Tree wrote:

    186. At 11:25am on 25 Mar 2010, ChrisArta wrote:
    #174

    @ Tree

    From where I'm watching this drama unfold, it is obvious to me that no one player is doing any good:))

    From the 16 Eurozone coutries 15 do not meet the criteria!! So why on earth they don't all get together and say: "we have a problem here, lets do something about it" but instead they say: "Look - look at him/her he/she is worse than me!" What country in the Eurozone is meeting the criteria today or has not broken them in the past???

    All this Greece vs Germany issue is nonsense

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fair point, we should probably cut our losses at this stage! :D

    Thinking about it, I'm in agreement. The only Eurozone country that meets the Maastricht requirement (as mentioned many times before) is Luxembourg, but outside of that, they're all as bad as each other, but simply can't accept it. It's childish behaviour, and it's one of the main things that's putting me off International (well, European) politics as a potential career move!

    It is absolute nonsense though - it's all good, until things go wrong, and then people start sniping at each other. It would be best if the ECB/IMF weren't forced to get involved, in my view, and instead the other EU nations decide to help them out. That way, it would really bring the sense of "community spirit" into the Eurozone, if that's at all possible! However, it's just a difficult situation, because by borrowing money, there's a real chance it could make things worse for Greece and the rest of the Eurozone.

    My advice: work together, but tread carefully.

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  • 202. At 1:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    194. At 12:25pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik @194,

    I'm confused by your statement: "But my advice to you is to avoid viciously fallacious civilisational attacks - I do not want here to start reminding you where that tactic comes from, last time it prevailed, millions died."

    Do you mean to say that if - by the exercise of free speech - I offend your national or cultural sensitivities, the result will be global war and genocide?

    (Besides, my attacks on the modern Greek polity are not attacks on anything I would define as 'civilisation'.)

    As for your question: you say "... we'll start dismantling one other country of the PIGS"... So when you say "we", to whom exactly do you refer?, the answer is 'we' EUrosceptics. Everyone with any shred of honesty admits that the Euro is a political construct aimed at binding EU member states together into political union without recourse to anything as problematic as whether or not people actually want this 'project' to proceed.

    Anything that fatally weakens the EUro and all it represents is thus applauded by all freedom-loving people.


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  • 203. At 1:12pm on 25 Mar 2010, mrF wrote:

    The EU is not a charitable project. The Union was meant to increase the competitiveness, strength and power of bargain of its members against North America and Asia.

    The majority of Germans are on low wages, pay very high taxes, and have available a social security and health system downsized to the minimum necessary. Now, after years of austerity and effort to build a safe, sustainable and solid country, they are demanded to give their nest egg away for charity.

    If they do their maths, and I am sure they do, they will soon realize they are better off on their own. Then it will be too late to convince them to stay on board, rowing the boat alone while others refresh themselves and shout slogans against "global capitalism".

    Soon Germans will start questioning what is the whole point of the EU for them...

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  • 204. At 1:27pm on 25 Mar 2010, James wrote:

    For the past 10 years my rich friend Gunther has been a responsible saver, working diligently and only buying the things he can afford whilst at the same time being a generous giver to charity. Stavros on the other hand is from the poor side of town. He joined our gang last year and whilst he is a cheerful addition to the gang, he is hopeless with money and just borrows to spend, trying to keep up with his new found pals. I've even heard that he is a bit of a tax dodger.

    Now I hear that the money lenders have caught up with him and want their money back. The tax man is on his tail too. Stavros has had to curb his excesses but unless he gets help, he'll be kicked out of the gang and there will be a huge fall out. Fortunately for Stelios, his best pal Pierre is still on his side because he has delusions of grandeur as a founder member of the gang and doesn't want to split it up. Luigi and Diego are also on his side, for now, because they know that they have also secretly been borrowing money they don't have to keep up and are now up to their own eyeballs in debt.

    If Gunther finds out he'll disown them all.

    So Gunther has a choice. Either he gives Stavros and his pals the cash to pay off their debts to allow the gang to continue for now or he walks away and sees the once proud gang disintegrate with many of his best friends being chucked out on the street.

    The moral of the story is that Gunther is the only sensible one in the gang and if it weren't for his generosity, there would be no gang at all.

    As Gunther decides their fate, the gang swaggers past another debt-ridden former gang member sleeping in a doorway....

    His name is Tommy.

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  • 205. At 1:35pm on 25 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    commonsense_expressway

    Re #176

    Congratulations:

    Never was a truer word written on behalf of Sassenachs to a falsely hard-done-by Tam-o'-Shanter!

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  • 206. At 1:44pm on 25 Mar 2010, g_rizzly wrote:

    @MaxSceptic Re: 371

    Actually Modern Greeks are surprising similar to Ancient Athenians in their social traits - especially the bad ones. Read the sources.

    As regards Pericles and Lysander in particular, Lysander bribed everybody and his brother with Persian gold while Pericles stole the Athenian Alliance's money and distributed it to his voters in the form of cinema tickets.

    However, I had the impression that this discussion was about the Greek state's fiscal and structural problems, not anyone's stereotypes about other people.

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  • 207. At 1:50pm on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    Dear ChrisArta

    what on earth are you barking about? You provided no facts for the figures you dish out to us and you just wants us to pray to the wonderful German discipline, please get a live!!!

    What I am barking about is that what is here is a mindset of cultural discipline - perceived or otherwise - which is pretty much intransigent. The point is not whether it makes economic sense or not to bolster up the Euro. It is exactly what you describe an emotional issue - I might not like it - you might not like it. Mrs Merkel has made what I think is a turnaround on Greece - because her voters just won´t stomach it.

    You say - Germans ought to get a life - well they are used to that one being levelled at them. Although, I am not one! However, if you want a "life" then surely you have to be consequential? However, it is probably true your average citizen here (there are exceptions) is incredibly conservative with a small c - they like stability - they take the long view, saving for a rainyday, insurance-driven etc etc. It is going against their whole societal set-up to bail out what is perceived as recklessness.

    Because following hard on the heals of a crisis - driven by what was perceived again as reckless investment banking - Mrs Merkel just won´t be able to sell-it to the domestic market. It is that simple and she and her government know this. Because people who get up for 3 months every morning to shovel snow without complaint - just won´t buy it. Which is exactly why Merkel is making a show of insisting upon stringent structure - she has to. The latter is the only possibility open to her and even that is not certain.

    I understand your comment - it would have been mine - approx 10 years ago. I could not believe that I had to clean the street on a Saturday morning for example. Like many expats - we go home at least a couple of times a year to recharge - because it can be difficult - to understand - difficult to live with sometimes. However, there are benefits and for the majority of population - they like their society just the way it is - as does the average the Brit, French, Greek etc.

    Which facts are you referring to? That Germany paid pretty much for its own 1990s reconstruction. GB rebate? Germans have less voting power pro-capita than pretty much any other members? Lux, Sweden, Dutch etc are EU payers the rest not. Fact that Blair pushed for early entry of Rumania into the EU? Or that tabloids - like those in the UK are influential on the streets - and they are pushing the emotive view - which I´ve tried to explain to you? Or perhaps that anti-German feeling prevails in Europe (particularly in GB)? Are you trying to say that people in the UK and other lands don´t use Germany as a punchbag? Well take a look at the papers going back decades... Because the views I´ve tried to explain might be emotive - you might not like to hear them - to quantify them - but they are real and they are influential.

    Merkel will put off a meeting about Greece, she is crossing her fingers that the Greek´s can resolve their own problems, she will drag in the IMF if she has to. And if as a last resort she has to organise any bail-out it will be have to be so formulated that it looks to her voters like an investment! She will have to pull off a conjuring trick... I am sure she and her Ministers are working on it.

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  • 208. At 2:01pm on 25 Mar 2010, tridiv wrote:

    Post 144: To MarcusAurelius
    Have not heard such rubbish in a long time. Check your knowledge and information base. There actually ARE differences between dictatorships and democracies. I am sure you have no clue to what an "welfare state" is. Just for your information, an welfare state is an ideal that almost all nations on earth, including the USA (health-care), is striving for. Do you know some of the best places to work and live in the world? For women, for children? Surprise- the democratic welfare states in northern and western Europe.

    Before you take your ranting on Europe too seriously, show me a better example anywhere in the world where free democratic nations have come together to cooperate on so many common issues. Please be informed that this (the EU) model is the future for South Asia, ASEAN, Africa and Latin America. Believe me its coming, despite all the difficulties (learning process!), and doomsayers. Better than wars, genocides, nuclear tensions etc. etc.

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  • 209. At 2:02pm on 25 Mar 2010, jarleih wrote:

    @ 199 MAII

    ...Why is it America's problem to rescue Greece if it is not Germany job? Greece is not a third world country, a developing nation of the kind the IMF was intended for....

    Maybe you should look up what the IMF is and what it does and not give your own definition of what the IMF should be.

    I'll give you 2 hints:
    1)
    The IMF is NOT an american organization it is an international one, consisting of 186 nations

    2) and this is from the IMF homepage
    A country in severe financial trouble, unable to pay its international bills, poses potential problems for the international financial system, which the IMF was created to protect. Any member country, whether rich, middle-income, or poor, can turn to the IMF for financing if it has a balance of payments need—that is, if it cannot find sufficient financing on affordable terms in the capital markets to make its international payments and maintain a safe level of reserves.


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  • 210. At 2:17pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Guys (Annie, Mathiasen and the rest...), you hear a politician telling you "Nah! We don't give to lazy cheating Greeks", then you see a little table and think the bar shows the truth. What should I say on that? I feel like a teacher trying to teach the basics, I am embarassed for your case (honestly!):

    Let us see the link provided EUprisoner above:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8036097.stm#start

    Lets to EU spending:

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Greece indeed figures out high in list of
    1) Agriculture
    2) Regional Aid

    Which is natural since:
    A) Greek land is by far the most expensive and least productive land in the whole EU. Under non-EU conditions Greece taxed highly imported agricultural products taxing citizens and keeping money in the state. What happens now is that Greek state to permit the internal EEC/EU free trade, it is imposed to subsidy Greek farmers and most (but not necessarily all!) of the money comes from EU other wise Greece would face a social collapse under that system. The EU manages year after year to alter this subsidy so as to push the bulk of the farmers to quit agriculture in the benefit of larger companies (in fact, the idea is to kill the bulk of production in Greece as it is seen as nuissance). One must be very disturbed to describe this as aid to a country.

    B) Regional aid is another aid packet where Greece gets from the EU and in which it shows up on the scale. Indeed seemingly a very useful packet aid, unlike the agricultural one. It is natural that Greeks tops since Greece in the last 2 decades went on to do all projects that did not do for some 60 years now. Moreover, any project in Greece costs at least 2 and up to 5 times more than the bulk of EU countries, open a google map and see the morphology of the country, then open the country's list of project suppliers (non, everything is imported) and you will get the idea why building in 1 go large projects is extremely risky. But these things are manageable, what is not manageable is the choice of projects: Greece cannot receive aid in just any project it esteems as usefull for the country but ONLY those who are judged by Europeans (Germans? French? British?), as "usefull for the union".... albeit many of them are questionable.
    Now, lets leave the above and let us see: this packet is dedicated to poorer, less developed, least populated regions such as Greece or Portugal and then in other countries;. But here is the trap (and not only for Greece of course, but for Portugal, Spain and the rest of non-productive countries): it is all about the 400 millions project 50%/50% funded by the EU programme which finally will cost 800 millions so that Greek government will pay 600 millions out of which 500 will go to, say, German companies with net profit of 30% (170 million). Germany's % in the 200million initial 50% sum would be how much? 60 million? 70 million?Apart this nice trick of moving taxes of Germans into the EU, mingling them with all other EU-citizens taxes then sending them to Greece imposing it to do a project and put the 80% of money then all that money going back to Germanan companies and via taxation back to the state. Amazing trick. In the mean time Greek gets indebted while doing projects of questionable utility while it is letting down projects of outmost importance.

    Outcome? EU agriculture can be described as anything else than aid to Greece, while Regional Aid is largely a smart way of manipulating "development" of Greece in directions that benefit the large EU countries in Greece's case, namely the Germans.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On other 4 categories Greece seems to get roughly about the size of the country/population/economy:

    3)Administration
    4)Research & Innovation
    5)Education

    Outcome?
    ... so much said for EU citizens paying Greek bureaucracy, all debunked right here.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    And in the following 2 critical categories, Greece seems to get much less than what it should:

    1) Crime & Border control
    2) Foreign Aid

    Fantastically these two aids are supposed to be given to countries having external borders. Greece was the ONLY country that bordered with 4 out of 4 and since 2002 with 3 out of 4 neighbours being non-EU, yet it received and receives nothing of that. Border control? Even Denmark gets more than Greece and I wonder what for? Trying to defend itself by the infiltration of German Talibans? Or trying to cope with the Swedish hungry illegal immigrants? Or perhaps Norwegian F-16 enter its airspace everyday?

    Outcome?
    Greece is technically refused any serious aid there where it has most of the need being in the most hot area of the EU, and being the only EU country that is threatened with war by 1 country as is politically attacked by another 2. This is just a reflection of how EU sees Greece.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    ... I willl continue now with payments...


    PS: I lost a lot of time writing this so please understand I will reply only to serious argumentation, or at least honest efforts to reply to the above.

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  • 211. At 2:21pm on 25 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "The story itself is not that big, but it proves that Germans & Greeks are both corrupt and so the rest of us should avoid doing business with corrupt Greeks or Germans"

    I am very sorry, but the story does not prove anything of the sort, nor does it prove anything else. Corporations are nationless. Mercedes may have its headquarters in Germany, but that is purely coincidental. It is not their aim to defend the interests of any particular nation, but simply to maximise their profits. It is the law. In order to do that, corporations frequently break other laws, but they will never break that law.

    I do not see how two stories about something very ordinary going on in the corporate world does anything in the way of proving that Greece and Germany are alike. I have been living in Germany for nearly two years now and I have never seen a civil servant accepting bribes or a teacher being convinced to give a child a better mark with a few Euros here a few Euros there.

    The corporate world is a cesspool of crime and corruption. That, however, has zip to say about this European issue.

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  • 212. At 2:40pm on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #207

    Thank you Annie,

    That post makes much more sense now that you explain that you are just expresing emotions and no facts.

    Facts I'd like to know are:

    - What nations "really" qualify for the Euro, I think most of them don't qualify
    - week hours that each nation works, I don't think British, or Greek workers work less that Germans

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  • 213. At 2:45pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    ... continuaiton of mes210:

    So always on the BBC link, we pass to the payments:

    Lets start from the last:

    1) Net contribution by population (i.e. net contribution devided by population):

    Ouaou! Impressive. Greek citizens seem to have double benefited than Portuguese. Show that to any German and he will start sharpenning his knifes! So what does that tell us. Nothing much more other than the fact that Greece receives a lot for agriculture and regional development which benefits not the bulk of farmers and absolutely not the quasi-totality of the rest of Greek citizens. On the contrary it is a system specially designed to empower the middlemen and inherently supports corruption.

    Agricultural aid is not aid. Regional aid can possibly be a real aid but most often ends up as described in 210, i.e. with the Greek (and any other) economy being aided a little so that it can in turns aid a lot foreign companies from countries that run the EU (namely, Germany and France).

    Now go to

    2) Net contribition:

    Again, ouaou! Greece seems to take most of it. Really so kind that EU! I need not even repeat what I said in 1)

    But lets go to:

    3) Total payments:

    Ha! Things change drastically! Little Greece is 8th country. Just look all the other countries above it and all the others below it. It seems that Greece pays what it has to pay and it pays it in relation to its population and not its economy (unlike other countries like Poland for example - of course Poland is a recent entry so it will certainly rise in future).

    But things become 100% clear in this:

    4) Total payments vs % of income:

    Here what can we say? Suddenly you see for the first time the contribution of rich countries falling down and that of poorer countries rising up with Greece proudly on the top.

    which means that:

    GREEKS ARE CURRENTLY TAXED BY EU MORE THAN ANY OTHER EU COUNTRY:
    Greek citizens pay almost double the tax of UK citizens
    Greek citizens pay 50% more than German citizens

    Do not even try to justify this with Greece being a net receiver. We said it. Net receiver where? In agriculture? To be able to buy the imports? In projects of Germanofrance's choice - to increase the logs in their command lists? Well, thank you very much!

    I am sorry but this is what I call down right fraud and corruption.

    And now you know why the EU funds knowingly the Greek corruption. It is to "close voices and consciousnesses".


    PS: As I said: try to reply only if having logical arguments on the figures above.

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  • 214. At 2:47pm on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    g_rizzly @206,

    OK, Pericles and Lysander (and virtually all our idols) had feet of clay. But even after 2,000 years we can - and do - admire the great legacy that they and their countrymen left us. Will those who call themselves their descendants leave any legacy other than a by-word for mismanagement and corruption?

    This discussion is indeed about the "Greek state's fiscal and structural problems". It is my contention that my "stereotypes about other people" neatly explain the root causes of this topic.

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  • 215. At 2:48pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re207: Annie ... refer now to 210 & 213. There are your facts.

    You want a just EU? Bad news Annie, you will be taxed a minimum of 50% more to reach the taxation of Greeks...

    Short your facts first before coming here.

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  • 216. At 2:48pm on 25 Mar 2010, Ef wrote:

    Elias Kostopoulos has the best post so far. Spare me all the heart-breaking speeches about how the poor upstanding Germans are asked to pay for the unreliable, reckless, lazy (etc. with other flattering adjectives) Greeks. Many of the recent scandals in Greece were manufactured in and by upstanding German companies of high morals.
    I am totally against political union. The EU should be restricted to a commercial zone. The EU was an answer to the new world order where much bigger countries are running the show and small nation states are left out of the game.
    Yet, if the Greek leadership had any guts and brains they would use this opportunity to reposition the country and renegotiate the terms. Why should Greeks (i admit to being one) necessarily be acting like the sidekick of the big boys in EU?
    Think out of the box and use whatever you have. Strategic location and new powers emerging in the world. You need money? Work out deals outside the EU and the US/IMF. And work them one against the other. That's politics. There is Russia in the neighbourhood and with the oil price going up over the summer they have cash floating around and an imperial minded Putin who would love the opportunity to challenge the US/EU. And don't forget China! They have loads of cash (that attracts the wrath of the US) and nothing to do with it. Play them against each other. Remember, Greece is a slight, small David among Goliaths. It would be suicidal to play straight with these fellows. And why empower them by asking for money? To caress their already inflated egos?
    I would let them fight each other and enjoy the show from sun drenched beaches which so many of the commentators refer to out of jealousy I assume...
    I am tired of all these "serious" arguments about all these "Good" responsible nations and the lousy ones. Please, read your history books and draw conclusions about what the game has always been and will always be (if you have enough brain cells still alive).

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  • 217. At 2:49pm on 25 Mar 2010, Justin150 wrote:

    #168 "The only prior "Historical Links" between England and Scotland were those characteristic of any small country with a large bully for a neighbour- invasion and war."

    Clearly history is not required reading in Scottish schools.

    By 1707 England and Scotland had only the same head of state for 100 years but I suppose that is not a "link"

    Have your referendum and if you vote for independence good luck.


    Back to the Greeks. No matter what Greek apologists may try to argue the whole mess has been created by the Greek political system and aided and abetted by the Greek people who were not willing to stop their politicians spending money they did not have. Of course, just in case anyone accuses me of an anti-Greek rant, the UK may end up in the same situation soon and the only people we can blame will be the Labour govt (for letting public spending get out of control) and ourselves (for not voting Labour out when we had the chance).

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  • 218. At 3:21pm on 25 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #211
    @Chris Camp,

    I'm in the UK and I have never seen Siemens give out money either. But if we are going to generalise about nations and national atributes then I'll keep it general. Ok I'll throw us in as well our politician abused their expenses accounts so, sorry we are a nation of 61m corrupt people, because we voted for them.

    but the Germans and the Greeks are more corrupt than us for sure!

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  • 219. At 3:23pm on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 220. At 3:53pm on 25 Mar 2010, Maria wrote:

    Usually i just read the comments here but i just read something that really pissed me off . Yes there is a big problem here but it's not all Greece. Half the EU has the same problem . Why you don't ask them to sell their national treasures to pay their depts??? Some people really have no brains at all. "sell Parthenon", "sell The islands"??????Seriously?????? Well guess what "NO WE ARE NOT SELLING ANYTHING".
    WE ARE NOT FOR SALE!!!!! we dont need EU anyways.We were fine before euro.

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  • 221. At 4:05pm on 25 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MaxSceptic aj jai iaj

    It is not enough Greece lacks 25 bln or whatever to service its debt; you think it's the right time to remind them that their national identity is not theirs either but was grabatised by all around, split and shared like a cake :o)

    Nik, what Russia has retained of your old identity - I return back to you! To fortify the resources at home! All the myths of Ancient Greece are yours back, sorry, we borrowed.

    Sorry, :o) it's not exactly money help :o)
    but, MaxSeptic, how to say, it's not the time to take of them any thing. One should add to such places or let them be, but not take.

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  • 222. At 4:10pm on 25 Mar 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    jar;

    Perhaps the US should apply to the IMF as well. It's also having financial problems. A few trillion should do the trick. And as for the restrictions on government waste and unnecessary spending the IMF would impose, many of us would welcome it, we've been demanding it for years.

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  • 223. At 4:27pm on 25 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius, on Frau Merkel possibly finding suspicious similarity btw her position in the EU and Russia's in the USSR.

    I am thinking, how good it was that nobody ever asked us if it is correct to sponsor a poorer region! May be not financially easier :o) - bt so much more easy morally!

    Even such a very question never arose, to give money or not to give. Be it old USSR or new-born Russian Fed.
    Clear as day-light that when you stop for a sec, beecause you eiether don't want to (or cannot anymore :o) - all will run away! Looking for sponsors elsewhere. It is a choice between keeping a large house (expensive) or a tight house (where more of the dough stays home). :o)

    In these federation types conglomerates I don't know, it is difficult to maintain simultaneously the size and the standard of living, one or the other. USA manages both, but in unique position to tap a bit everywhere else, or tap from China, or whatever other ways you figured out.

    Where is the big EU planning to tap on the side? I don't see a source identified yet.

    Imagine we stop keeping Chechnya with 95% unemployemnt or the new wonders of SO etc. To say nothing of heaps of own constituencies. All will kiss Russian Fed. good-bye tomorrow. Well, the day after tomorrow. When they find other sponsors, like Chechnya is courting Saudi Arabia just in case or whatever.

    At least here it's morally easier nobody even discusses, it goes without saying. Chechens didn't even work at own re-building, sat and stared :), other regions come and build there, you can't allure them to their own enterprises by no ginger-breads :o))))) But OK that's specific, but un-specific regions - crowds. Either you want to maintain the size or you want to maintain the money.

    Well the EU is may be more cllever, that's not difficult to be more clever than Russia in management :o))))) may be will figure out how to keep both.

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  • 224. At 4:31pm on 25 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    And I even have to correct my own message 213 (of course none of you would had noticed it):

    - Greek citizens pay almost double the tax of UK citizens
    - Greek citizens pay 50% more than German citizens

    The above is counted per population.

    If we take into account that in Greece the population is 11 million but the 2 million are black-market illegal immigrants while the rest are retired people, part-time working women and a huge pool of unemployed young people that means that apart the VAT that everyone pays, if we compare the working people we could end up in

    - Greek working people paying 220% the EU-tax of UK working people
    - Greek working people paying the 80% of German working people

    So much of Greek muths. The absolute debunking.

    EU friends here should even avoid discussing the issue:

    - reduce the agricultural aid to Greece to the EU-average. We in Greece will cover the difference for our farmers.
    - reduce the regional aid to Greece to the EU-average BUT we get more freedom of choice on projets that WE esteem as necessary and apply solutions that WE esteem as appropriate.
    - maintain the average aids of EU there
    - and increase the aids of Greece on Borders, Security and Foreign affairs to bring it to the row if not to the top of all EU countries. EU borders are under attack in Greece, not in Poland or the Chech Republic.

    And no matter if you do or not any of the above you have to do one of the following:

    - either reduce the direct and indirect of EU-taxation on Greeks at a rate of more than 200% to reach the EU-average.
    or
    - increase the percentage of EU-taxation on other countries to reach the same level as that of Greek working people which means of course that German citizens will be EU-taxed 80% more and British citizens 220% more.

    Oh... and Germans, French and British will have to work considerably more,to reach the Greek working peoples' average annual working hours. See them run for a change.

    What all that means? It means: let the masks fall. Let us see who is the corruptor and who is the real fraudster. Honestly, these 3 weeks we discuss here, I lost pretty much all of my confidence on EU's ability to stand up in the world as a group of countries. I knew EU was quite detrimental to Greece (but had not measured how much!), but I considered it to be a sacrifice for having some short of geopolitical safety net. We all saw what happend to countries that have not such a net (Cyprus, Serbia etc.) as well as we saw what happens when you have the wrong safety net (Georgia, Pakistan etc.). But having seen how easily EU countries with foremost Germany are ready to kick-off 1 member, Greece, in a situation which difficult it may be is not at all a crisis (a crisis just because 2-3 private US institutions said: "lend Greece more"), I can imagine that Greece is right now on its own. I should indeed join EUprisoner and DemocracyThreat in my critiscism. I won't. Still EU is a block of power and for Greece is better to be in even if EU slaps Greece because Greece fell on EU's behind because US pushed it. Last time we were militarily attacked by NATO (US+British forces bombed Greek largely unarmed positions in Cyprus) we went out of the military part of NATO and lost also politically the game. We have to remain in EU. But we really this time have to start doing like others: pay less, profit more. And when it comes to foreign affairs ignore EU "sensibilities". We have to act on our own not matter if that is destructive to the others' affairs. Bring down the Russian gas now. And let the Chinese take the leasing of the ports now.

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  • 225. At 4:41pm on 25 Mar 2010, Annie wrote:

    Nik

    Ditto - check it out first.

    Perhaps you could suggest that we introduce a European-wide tax system - that would be interesting? Iron out all those irksome discrepancies.
    A little convergence maybe. I´ll let you raise that with the British public first... crunch!


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  • 226. At 4:47pm on 25 Mar 2010, giorgos vamvakousis wrote:

    Looking to the Siemens and Daimler bribing activities it seems to me that finally the big German exports are rather due to the high ''quality'' of the German ''gifts'' to various governments and not to any quality higher than other European countries like UK, French or Scandinavian for example.
    As I said last time in the Facebook, I feel that the nightmare of Mrs Merkel is the possibility that it comes the moment when the markets consider this fact and start thinking the other way: about the development of the German-Greek government bond ...spreads.
    And don't forget that Germany will need to borrow 80 billion euro this year !
    Today... this spread is about -300 units...
    Will Mrs Merkel get the -300 units spread, or less ? for example -200 ?
    You see, the media always present what the politicians say, but what counts are the markets, not the politicians' talking, very similar to the theater performers' talking.

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  • 227. At 5:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    James

    Re #204

    Enjoyed another episode in the long running Friends serial: Stavros & Gunther.

    For awhile it seemed those 2 were defying the odds with an equal lifestyle that was also enjoyed by Luigi, Diego, Pierre etc. and as such great mates they seemed willing to share anything they had in order to maintain appearances. Only, as this latest programme has shown, it turns out none of them was actually looking after the interests of the whole Household - - no, each of them was going about doing their bit, but with no coordination - - now, it seems the House is crumbling around them!

    Of course, Gunther from long experience & having been regularly employed has put aside quite a bit more in the House 'pot' than the others: Trouble is Gunther is now saying its really his 'pot' and not for sharing. The others all along assumed the 'pot' was the basis for House being set-up as it was and they don't like the Rules changing!

    "..sleeping in a doorway... his name is Tommy."

    Interesting scenario/storyboard: Stavros & Gunther at each other's throats, but it is 'Tommy' that catches the eye in the closing scene!

    Would I be right in thinking 'Tommy' isn't sleeping it off in any doorway at present? Indeed, so far as one can tell with him having a wallet that includes Triple A Credit-rating there's a likelihood he'll get by without any hand-out from the House or any other communal-collective. That suggests, if Tommy sets his mind to it, he's every chance of not needing or using the House's utility facilities at all! That will annoy the other House-mates as they already object to the way he has gone about ignoring quite a lot of the agreed House-sharing tasks.

    It seems Tommy is unlike Stavros & some close mates who're looking decidedly dishevelled & desparate from the debilitating effects of relying too much on friends when things get rough: Of course this will affect Gunther's clean-living habits as it is evident he readily and eagerly joined & went along with the same Housing Estate as Stavros etc.
    So, Gunther really has only himself to blame if the patrons of the House have turned out not to be reliable when it comes to cleanliness & the risks of infection have now been highlighted!

    Of course, Tommy will feel sympathy for Stavros & Gunther as both are familiar colleagues, but for sometime now have been living within a different locality and therefore are no longer Tommy's immediate concern.

    It seems stories of Tommy's imminent vagrancy have been grossly exaggerated by those who neglected their own agreed House Rules & now seek to distract from their own predicament & put blame onto those like Tommy who rejected the pre-conditions for entering the House as too untidy & who disliked sharing the soap in the first place!

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  • 228. At 5:21pm on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    WebAliceinwonderland @221,

    'Grabatise' is a truly wonderful word.

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  • 229. At 5:42pm on 25 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    170. At 09:34am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    171. At 10:05am on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:
    My comment @170 was deemed to have broken 'house rules'. I shall try to re-phrase it.

    In a display of patriotic fervour GreekRightWing @139 wrote: "Greece is for Greeks."

    Well, you are very welcome to it!

    But do note that with the exception of linguistic vestiges, there is little relationship between modern Greece and the great civilisation that was Ancient Greece.

    The Papandreous and Karamanlises of today sure ain't no Pericles' or Lysanders.... . The very thought of any real continuum between Ancient Greece and today's shambles is enough to give rise to cutting Swiftian observations and make one gaffaw aloud in derision.

    /unquote

    Linguistic vestiges? As much as it may offend your ill-informed "prejudices", modern Greek is directly descended from the ancient Koine. You wouldn't happen to be one of those pompous boors from northern Europe who think themselves the "real" heirs to the legacy of ancient Greece, would you? You no doubt believe the ancients were all tall, blond and blue-eyed Aryans who spoke Greek with an English accent. I think I feel a derisive gaffaw [sic] coming on...

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  • 230. At 5:45pm on 25 Mar 2010, giorgos vamvakousis wrote:

    What is completely unethical and euro-suiciding, is the fact that at the moment Germany opposes to France, Spain, Italy and the others about helping Greece and the Eurozone, by the same time Germany is negotiating (blackmailing) Greece to accept to buy additional military equipment, accept to pay for the German submarines which cannot even sail, the Olympic games 2004 security system C4I which never functioned, etc.
    They do not really mind about the Greek financial problem and its real reasons.
    If Germany was really minding about the Euro zone stability they should force the Greek politicians to reorganize the Greek public sector and cut unnecessary huge public expenses and related corruption.
    But the Germans export through corrupting companies like Siemens and Daimler and...
    By the way, the bribing cost is indirectly paid by the German working people.
    So soon they will feel the consequences. It is fatal I believe.

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  • 231. At 5:49pm on 25 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "but the Germans and the Greeks are more corrupt than us for sure!" recent BBC reports suggest otherwise. British politicians, especially those in the New Labour government, are crooked and rotten to the core. German politicians are nowhere near as corrupt as that and they even put Greek politicians to shame with their blatant lobbyist prostitution.

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  • 232. At 6:08pm on 25 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MaxSceptic :o) I tried to warn you that's too sensitive time to remind.
    Besides, what do you want Pericles heritage exactly for? :o)
    Leave it where it belongs, and never attempt to take such eh abstract things. That's very very dangerous. They'll stand various things but try to attempt at symbolic values - Greeks will quit in no time at all.

    Trust me an old Russian imperialist :o)))), as generalisissimo put it.

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  • 233. At 6:13pm on 25 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    We've got the whole Chechnya still there, only because Russians are able to attend their folk dance and folk singing groups concerts, and applaud at that. :o)

    Lend an attentive understanding ear, so to say, to treasures of national identity eh culture and ? things. We like art, that saves us :o)

    There are only 2 types of employemnt in Chechnya now: one half of the population is employed as security of Ramzan Kadyrov, the other half tours Russia in folk concert groups.

    Anyone else aspiring to grabatise :o) our Chechnya, should first check own ability to stand these concerts :o)))) and desire to buy tickets for them :o))))))

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  • 234. At 6:23pm on 25 Mar 2010, Bill Baur wrote:

    This kind of proves what I have felt all along about the EU: there is too much deep-seated history and nationalism for it to ever really work. Germany and Greece are not like Iowa and North Carolina in the USA. There is no common basis really, or shared history or culture. The other big joke out there is BRIC - now that is a real farce for an economic union!

    That being said, let's be fair to the Germans. I am certain if the roles were reversed, Greece would not help Germany out. It is not a particular German issue.

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  • 235. At 6:41pm on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    MACEDNVS @229,

    Sorry about the misspelling of "guffaw".

    Modern Greek may indeed be directly descended from ancient Koine (and modern Italian is directly descended from Latin - which doesn't turn Silvio Berlusconi into a Cincinnatus). Biblical and Modern Hebrew are virtually one and the same (in the spoken, if not written form). Can the same be said for ancient Koine and modern Greek? This is what I meant by "linguistic vestige".

    Is it really true that the ancient Greeks were not all tall, blue-eyed blonds? Gosh! Next you'll be telling me that all their lovely white marble statues were actually painted in garish hues....

    Anyway, my intention was to ridicule the proud but erroneous notion that the Ancient and Modern Greeks are one and the same people. A heck of a lot of dilution has happened over the past 2,000 years. It is not enough to claim a lineage of greatness. To become truly great, a people must act accordingly.

    Cheers! (Ya sou!)

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  • 236. At 7:59pm on 25 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    I suppose that would make English a "linguistic vestige" of Low German, nein?

    Your Italian and Hebrew analogies are specious, I'm afraid. Greek never underwent the kind of profound changes that made Italian a separate language from Latin, such as the total loss of grammatical case and the neuter gender. That is why ancient and modern Greek are considered by linguists to be historical stages of the same language. Hebrew was brought back from the dead as a spoken language after a 2,000-year hiatus. Greek has an unbroken literary and oral tradition spanning millennia. There really is no meaningful comparison.

    You can attempt to "ridicule the proud but erroneous notion that the Ancient and Modern Greeks are one and the same people" all you like, but you're really only ridiculing yourself. That there has been a continuous tradition of Greek-speaking communities over the centuries can hardly be disputed. Dilution? That's rather rich coming from the wrong side of the Channel. Having visited your gloomy little island recently, I'd have to say that the Greeks of today have far more to do with the Greeks of antiquity than the Britons of today have to do with those of even half a century ago.

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  • 237. At 8:04pm on 25 Mar 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    I had read the views of Marcus at 30, and find there is little I wish to add. I follow his reasoning, and at nastier junctures anticipate it, and have nothing to add. Except to say what a disappointment it has been to witness such a pitiful parade of politicians spending money they don't have.

    The EU is is a shower.

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  • 238. At 9:12pm on 25 Mar 2010, SuperJulianR wrote:

    Frank_F @ 159

    I was very surprised by your reading of my previous post (86). At no time did I suggest that East Germans as selfish, greedy or envious - just that Angela Merkel (and East Germans of her generation) grew up with a different perspective and priority from those in the west. They were the ones disadvantaged by being imprisoned in the so-called "German Democratic Republic" (so-called because "Democratic" never really came into the equation), and naturally their wish was to re-join the rest of Germany and live in true democracy, with freedom and prosperity.

    That is only natural. If I had grown up there, I am sure I would have felt the same. It does not make East Germans inferior - just grew up with different priorities, that is all. In many ways Angela Merkel is right to resist attempts to bale out failing economies.

    And, coming from the UK, I am more than alive to the fact that it is the UK - not Germany - that is the main 'problem state' in the EU, refusing as it does even to take part in the main European projects like the Euro and Schengen.

    And, ironically, it is re-unification that has held back the old east's economic recovery - but that is another story entirely.

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  • 239. At 10:06pm on 25 Mar 2010, ashkar wrote:

    Sorry for waking you up....

    Do you really think, U.S. and U.K., Japanese, Chinese and French and other companies are not involved in bribing? German companies definetely are, because there are countries, where bribing is the only way to get a deal... please don't try to tell me, others don't do it. I don't say, I appreciate it. It's illegal, and I'm very happy it's chased down.

    But don't be too blind on this matter. Every "globalised" company is in danger of breaking the law. Siemens and Daimler and other companies are owned by an international mix of companies/persons. And please be sure: Every company you would take an oath for, is intimately involved in bribing, no matter, what country. It's sad, but true. And this is true for the U.S. companies as well.



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  • 240. At 10:19pm on 25 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    MACEDNVS @236,

    Firstly, I must commend you on your command of the English language (far better than that the average native of this 'gloomy little island').

    Secondly, our little spat demonstrates aptly the virtue of the saying vive la différence. Let us truly celebrate our diversity - and not pretend (as the EU slogan would have it) to be united by it.

    I should point out that any criticism of England or the English genealogy does not alter the validity of my criticisms of Greece. Mainly because we are famously - and proudly - a mongrel nation: britons, celts, angles, saxons, normans, huguenots, etc... and also because most criticisms of us are justified. (And you are quite right to allude to how 'multiculturalism' has changed this country beyond all recognition - and mostly for the worse - in the past 50 years).

    What most people want, here in our gloomy island, is independence and self-determination. We do not want to be part of the 'European Project'. Good neighbours with free trade, open markets and borders, sure. But not part of a federal pan-European supra-national super-state.

    And this is why I - and other English EUrosceptics - delight in the obvious disharmony and disunity among EU member states and cheer on the disintegration of the Euro - a political construct designed expressly to further the 'project'. (Schadenfreude is a most useful word).

    But nil desperandum peeps, the ejection of Greece from the EUrozone would do wonders for its tourism industry.

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  • 241. At 02:35am on 26 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Maaxx... Maaaaaaaxxxxxxxxxxx.... I told you, don't get into an argument you cannot win.

    Just for your information, when we Greeks say we are Greeks, as you saw, we do not only mean it linguistically or culturally but also in terms of direct ancestry. However, you should pay attention here: stories about pure races and such are not a case for Greeks, even among nationalists.

    What Greeks react is to all those ridiculous accusations that we mixed with Turks, Slavs and Albanians - i.e. all our modern neighbours.

    Why it is ridiculous is easy to prove: you just have to make a visit in Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and then to Greece to see the difference.

    Albanians are on average of light brown hair, not very hairy, with completely "foreign" faces that resemble much more Caucasian tribes - certainly a recent (and as facts show a post-slavic) arrival in the area. Bulgarians are black, brown or blond people but with characteristically more white skin, less hair, often with green, grey eyes and they bear no relatinship to the average Greek. Ask Generalissimo on that. Now Turks, what can I say? They were an Empire thus as themselves openly admit they have drown upon all the populations of the Empire but unlike as they brag about they have given to no-one since the movement of populations was strictly in 1 direction: from christians to muslims and not the opposite. Original Turks were Mongolic-like, i.e. hairless people with chinese eyes, i.e. day and night with what you find in Greece. Now Greeks what are they on average? Black or dark brown hair, large noses, large feet, large everything to make a long story short (it ain't!), one of the most hairy tribes on earth (but that is our appeal!), with considerably darker skin than all of our neighbours (that is why Albanians and FYROMians call us Ethiopians with racist connotations as if we would care...).

    I.e. in a few words, we speak about day and night difference. Now when you (or any other) comes and tell us "you are turks, slavs, albanians" we say "basta!" where did you see that on us? How do you explain the vast anthropologic difference among the average types of all these populations?

    And most importantly: did you ever wonder what we really call Mediterranean populations? Slovenians? Croatians? Albanians? Perhaps Libyans (ghhhhhhh... ), Algerians? pffff, Egyptians - hmmm a few of them pass... Palestinians? Hmmm... a few of them pass... Libanese? Libanese pass easier. Turks? Only those west-coast who look like "you know what". But Greeks, Italians, Corsicans, some of south French, Eastern Spanish (but not so much western ones!) they pass... Especially south Italians (eastern Sicilians and South Italians around Naples), who are the non-Greek population that is genetically most close to modern Greeks).

    If you accept that either you like it or not that is the definition of "Mediterranean type" then .... helllllooooo? Did you just describe as Mediterranean ONLY those who resemble like modern Greeks?

    I think you got your answer as to what are modern Greeks and what is their relationship with ancient ones.

    Now, all the above does not imply that Greeks talk about pure races and such. Greeks never developed any such notion. Greeks mingled with other nations. Do you want to know the nations they mingled most? Well these were the soutthern Thraecian tribes like the Agrianes for example and the west-mid Minor Asian tribes (like Bithynians, Phrygians, Lyceans, Carians, Lydians etc.). Other nations that mingled in large numbers were the Italics (Romans and others), a mix that occured in Italy and not so much in Greece but these contributed of course quite a lot since in the middle ages a very large part of south Italian Greeks were transferred to mainland Greece to repopulate it after the slaughter of Bulgarians (that killed possibly the 50% of the population of south Balkans). Later in middle ages catholic north italians established in significant numbers all over the Byzantine Empire then they conquered it along with mainly mid-south French crusaders and Catalans. Slavs while had established in significant numbers in the 8th-9th century due to their rebellion they were slaughtered and displaced (after them having first slaughtereda greater number of Greeks...), while later the same story happened with the Bulgarian raids - these wars explain why while there was a lot of ineraction between the Slavic tribes and Greeks the inter-mixing was much less happening. Even in the Ottoman Empire when they were all merely Christian Orthodox, there were clear lines dividing them. Eg. when Greeks did their revolution they used the term "Roman" that for long meant Greek of course: some of them tried to remake it meaning "Roman citizen (of Byzantine Empire)" in an effort to convince Bulgarians, Serbians, Roumanians and the few Albanian orthodox but to no avail of course because all these people knew what they were and that "Romans"=Greeks so the revolution of the Roman (citizens) is a Greek-affair, thus no-one joined. The Falmerayers' (you know the one talking about Albanoslavic Greeks) Albanian accusation (cos he throwed it in as an accusation) is even more ridiculous, those Greeks that spoke Albanian-based dialects happened to be overwhelmingly those that worked as armatoloi in the Ottoman army. As we know, the Ottoman army in Europe were overwhelmingly Albanians, and Albanian was its official language. Most Greeks were bilingual in Turkish too, should we consider them Turks? Perhaps if we consider Indians as Anglosaxons descendants of Robin Hood, why not afterall?

    To make the long story short: Greeks like any other nation mixed with a lot of nations, out of which the most important were:

    South Thraecians,
    Carians, Phrygians, Bythinians,
    Lyceans, Lydians, Armenians
    Italics,
    French & Catalans
    Slavs


    But you know what? Someone (like you? hope not) who wants to attack modern Greeks cannot attack them and say: you are "improper"! You have mixed with Phrygians (or other Minor Asians)!!!! To throw an accusation it has to be one of the modern neighbours (of course which is demeaning to them as they are treated as "impurities" by the accusator!).

    So while modern Greeks have mixed with quite a lot of people, a process that did not of course start at Alexander's time as some idiotically believe, but was a process that occured ALWAYS since pre-history and the arrival of homosapiens in the area - modern Greeks do resemble ancient Greeks for the very reason that out of all these people, the vast majority were Greek-like people, i.e. other Mediterranean tribes. For example Phrygians, that possibly originated from southern Thrace, despite having moved centuries prior to classical times, deeper in Minor Asia (thus more in touch with east Asian Iranic tribes than with Greeks), they had a language that was really so close to Greek dialects of mainland Greece that most now consider as a cousin to Greek.

    For us modern Greeks, there is no issue of "modern" and "ancient". All is one. We identify with all our ancestors be it the Mycenaeans, the Spartans and Macedonians and Miletians and Syracusians, the Roman Greeks, the Byzantine Greeks (be carefull, not all Byzantium were Greeks! 10s of others existed and Armenians actually ruled very often, if not most often, as Emperors and generals). For us there is no "ancient Greeks" and "modern Greek" these are ridiculous divisions of no value. Homer was already "ancient Greek" in the times of Socrates, and people back then needed quite a lot of lessons to read the poems properly.

    Now if you ever wondered what is the relation of "modern Greek" to ancient Greek I will take the example of a high-school educated Greek who however has not studied ancient Greek (the socialist PASOK in 1980 almost took it out cos it was deemed to make students more patriots and less socialists...). This student can read and understand the bulk of the text written in Common Greek up to 1st A.D. (i.e. 2000 years back!!!), which is incredible. He will find the bible understandable, though Matthew a bit more difficult as Matthiew was more eloquent in Greek and wrote in a form of semi-kathareousa (a process of literary Greek imitating (but rarely reproducing perfectly) Attic dialect that was initiated in the 1st AD century. However for out highschool guy, John's gospel (John only spoke the common Greek and had minimum education) is really easy to read and he could sit and read whole books on that dialect. Marc's is in the middle. Now if this guy reads more ancient text, say of the 5th century, it will be more difficult for him to understand the whole meaning of phrases albeit he will always be in position to understand what a paragraph talks about - note also that most text of 5th century was written by extremely educated people and is really complex text that even illiterate people of those times would hardly understand (Greek of illiterate masses would be more simple to understand of course). But if the he goes to Homeric poems, it will be really difficult to understand a paragraph, he will only be capable of capturing words he recognises as own language but that is all.

    Frankly said, I doubt there is any language in the world that can show this type of continuity. I can read Linear alphabets dating 3500 years back and recognise words I use in my everyday life like oil, gold, god, (elaion, hrysos, theos etc.).


    Anyway, while we love to tell you "when you were discovering meat-eating, we had already cholesterol" or "when we were building Parthenons, you were still on the trees", we do not consider ourselfs better or worse than anyone. We are not more ancient than others in the sense as humans (unless you came on a UFO after us...), but we only claim to have a written and/or traced history that dates really really very very far in the distant past. And for that reason we do respect Indians and Chinese for that matter.

    We are proud of who we are. Calling us Slavs or Albanians will not change what we see in our mirror: and I do have used the mirror more than you (or Slavs or Albanians...) since I shave myself since the age of 14 and could really do it since 12,5.

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  • 242. At 03:19am on 26 Mar 2010, Zoli wrote:

    For Enigma008: Not bailing out Greece would actually be the consistent thing to do. None of the East European countries that got into trouble in the past year got a EU bailout either. Granted that Greece is also part of the Eurozone, still how will Europe explain these double standards to the East Europeans who needed help?

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  • 243. At 05:06am on 26 Mar 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    Thank you all you fellow commenters , for the hours of entertainment I receive as a pensioner living far away in southeast Asia . I read with interest, " The Downfall of the European Empire ", all your varied opinions , for and against , on the topic of the day and enjoy writing my own opinion .

    As I see it , The European Union IS Globalisation , not a protection against it . The Euro was set up for purely political reasons , not fiscal or economic ; to bind the European Sovereign States together , with the promise of Financial stability ; to make Europe look like one big country .

    The European Union , Commission , Brussels , is to blame for the financial difficulty , Greece , Italy , Spain ,Portugal and Ireland find themselves in today . If you are going to have a single currency ; the more countries who join it the more convincing it looks to the outside world . I see NO excuse for The EU not to have known the real state of finances in any country wishing to join . It was not enough just to accept their word that they qualified ; the EU should have double checked . I lived in Italy at the time ; it was common knowledge there , even to a foreigner , that the country was deeply in debt and falsifying the accounts to join the single currency . These countries should never have been allowed to join the single currency . They should have seen for themselves that they would never match the industry of Germany and north European countries ; worse still that they would ruin their own economies largely based on tourism . Friends in Italy said how nice it will be to have a currency equal to everyone elses . I said to them , yes , very nice to visit France or Germany and have your money be the same ; but you will pay for it very heavily at home , your cost of living will go sky high and so it has .

    The United States of America has been formed as a Federal state comprising 52 states ; because people have migrated from Europe and around the world , to make a new life . Pioneers have settled in different parts and set up states , with a semi autonomous government .
    It is not at all the same as Europe where you have Sovereign States with a long independent history and people speaking different languages .
    It always amuses me that the European Parliament building is designed to look like the Tower of Babel .

    I applaud #139 GreekRightWing !!! for his bold statement .
    I am English and Right Wing !!! I'm only British for passports and other documents that require me to write British ; I give no Allegiance to the European Union , like many British and other nationals , I am the Enemy within .

    Greece should default on their debts if necessary ,leave the European Union , leave the Euro and return to the Drachma . They could then set the value of their currency to a level to suit their needs .

    Europe should never have gone beyond being an alliance of free trading partners , independents Sovereign states , The EEC .
    In my opinion the dream of Closer Union to One federal state is DOOMED , I believe it will never be . You can paste over the cracks for now , but I believe the Euro will fail too .

    I note that in today's news , an agreement has been reached ; that Greece should if necessary seek help from the IMF and that the 16 Euro states will raise 22 billion between them . On paper that is a kindly thought , but to me seems a miscalculation . 5 of the 16 Euro countries may be in need of financial aid themselves ; so how could they possibly contribute to a loan to Greece , money which they do not have and they might never see again ?

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  • 244. At 05:45am on 26 Mar 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    Cool_Brush_work #227 and James #204

    I have been away from Britain for some time now , so am not up with the latest entertainments on British television .

    I am wondering whether " Stavros and Gunter " with characters Luigi , Diego , Pierre and Tommy is a TV comedy soap ? From your description , I am picturing a short animation film like " Crapstone Villas ".

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  • 245. At 06:50am on 26 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    #242
    @Zoli, What do you think Latvia received. I don't envy Latvians and I think the Latvian government with the actions it took to receive that help betrayed its people worse than the Soviet sympathesizers did. But never the less they got and EU bail out.

    Does it help the Latvians? No, it ruins the Latvians but it helps Danish & Swedish banks though. So, who cares if you betray your people as long as the bankers that sponser you are happy!!

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  • 246. At 07:11am on 26 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    What are you waiting for? Stop moaning and elect a government that will deliver you from the tyranny of Brussels once and for all. The population of London certainly didn't look European to my inferior Mediterranean eyes, so I don't doubt for a moment that you don't belong. Perhaps an Islamist régime is your best bet. If they can't rescue you from our impure gene pool, I don't know who can.

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  • 247. At 08:53am on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Nik@241,

    Thank you for your prolix reply. It made little sense to me, but did nonetheless demonstrate a great aptitude for comedic writing. I should note that your proud mention of the hirsute quality of your nation echoes the great Greek philosopher Taki Theodoracopulos's comment that Greece is the 'birthplace of electrolysis'.


    MACEDNVS@246,
    You conflate two issues:

    Firstly, a single-issue party (like UKIP) will never hold power. As I cannot elect a government that will rid us of EU control, I can only cheer on its destruction - which will happen sooner or later due to it's (in Lenin's phrase) 'internal contradictions'.

    Secondly, although I agree that the growth of Islam in the UK is - as Emperor Hirohito would say "not necessarily to our advantage" and is a serious source for concern, the situation in other EU countries - especially France - is even more severe.

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  • 248. At 09:05am on 26 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    About the whole "ancient" Greek topic - everybody has ancestors somewhere and the notion of a "pure" race is preposterous and fascistic. Nobody derives from a pure race. 200,000 years ago, our ancestors left their homeland in Africa and conquered the Earth. We are all one species and the idea of nationhood and "common ancestry" is as artificial as it is new (around 200 years).

    It is, of course, altogether possible, that modern Greeks have slightly more ancient Greek ancestry than today's Turkish, German or Swedish people. That would be the case, particularly if the Greeks through the ages engaged in excessive incest. But I regard the Greeks more highly than that.Like every other sane nation, they mixed, and adopted cultural traits from other nations (their cuisine is effectively Turkish) and never stopped changing and changing. People who stopped changing have already started dying.

    When I talk to Greeks today, especially in Internet forums like this one, I often encounter the notion that modern Greeks and ancient Greeks somehow "the same". Compare that to a German saying, the Germans today are the same people who defeated the Romans in the Teuteburg forest. Or a French person saying they and the Romans are the same people. The idea is laughable, but taken very seriously by many Greeks I talk to.

    As long as this modern Greek ancestor, lineage and alleged heritage fad does not turn into full-blown fascism, the way German obsession with ancestry turned into full-blown fascism, we can just dismiss these claims as an amusing little bit of national myth-building.

    Unfortunately, that is not all. Many Greeks have somehow successfully deluded themselves into thinking they are entitled to a "return" of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum or a "return" of the Pergamon Alta from the Pergamon museum in Berlin. Those items were legally excavated by German and British archaeologists, with the authorisation of the Ottoman authorities. Very few of them seem to understand that those items are not part of their culture, but part of British/German culture. In the case of the Pergamon Altar, the claim is particularly ludicrous, as the treasures were found in territories belonging to the Turkish republic today. If anyone could make a claim, it would be Turkey, but as mentioned before, the excavation was legal and paid for.

    In conclusion, every nation has a right to create its own myths. For example, in the national myth-building of the U.S., the struggle for "liberty" and "democracy" have become the main features of American history, whereas the slaughter of native Americans and the slavery have been somewhat pushed aside. So national myth-building does not need to have anything to do with the truth, in fact there is not myth-building without telling a few porkies or leaving out vital bits of your history. What I find problematic is some recent efforts to turn these myths into weapons against other nations/cultures. That's when it turns into unreconstructed fascism.

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  • 249. At 09:22am on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Chris Camp @248,

    Soberly put.

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  • 250. At 09:22am on 26 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Huaimek

    Re #224

    No, if You care to look & read the Comments on here, 'Gunther & Stavros' are straight from the 'pro-EU' scriptwriter, 'James' at #204.

    All I did was offer an alternative scenario to James' scene where he depicted some 'Tommy' is seen sleeping rough.

    'Crapstone Villas'?

    Cannot say I've heard of that one: Probably one of those very high budget collaborative Continental series where the very dodgily organised Production costs completely ruin the efforts of the participants!
    You must be familiar with it: As a result they have to employ a bunch of second-rate actors in the main roles, their voices get dubbed on afterwards by technicians disinterested in lip-syncing and You end up with a massively expensive advertising campaign for a show that has no substance whatsoever!

    Yeah, come to think of it, 'Crapstone Villas', I reckon I've seen some incredibly shoddy episodes over recent years, but the English version was re-titled, 'Corpulence: From Maastricht to Eternity'.

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  • 251. At 10:26am on 26 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re247: Max Sceptic, my comedy writing is a joke on you.

    Of course I have to thank you for admitting your complete lack argumentation and your not so hidden racism against Greeks. It is easy to be racist against Greeks of course. But where does that come from. For example do you go around and tell Indians and Chinese that are not Indians and Chinese when you discuss their financial situation?

    Re248: Chris Camp, as I told Max above, you do not have to open discussions that are not up to your level of knowledge. Did you seem open discussions on Vietnam or South Africa or somethign? When you say something you have to back it up. For example, you say our cooking is Turkish instead of saying Greeks and Turks have similar cooking ways thus you claim here that these cooking ways were brought by mongolic raiders from outer mongolia on their horses. See how easy is to debunk an as-if point? You saw what happens here to Max who not only cannot bring a single argument but has to refuge to empty phrases to avoid.

    When you talk about "ancient" and "modern" Greeks it is the good old (and extremely racist) trick of western European full of complex of inferiority transformed to false complexes of superiority wanting to pass a notion of "ancient Greeks" being something like Germanics (remember, all these guys like Falmerayer were to varying degrees supporters of superior nordic races and such) and then ending up in "modern Greeks being not Greeks" - a pseudotheory that lacks even the basic of historic and scientific base which is of amazing racism against Greeks both "ancient" and "modern" (in the middle there is nothing anyway, the place was uninhabited...). Now, not only there is an absolute cause of attacking us as people, i.e. attacking as racially - which is unacceptable, but this vicious attack has most often a specific and not at all historic but very much pragmatic reasoning behind: it is to be used geopolitically to demand things from us, namely our land. Why? Cos Greeks are "dangerous" for the geopolitics of some people, so it is easy to bunch up beligerent underdeveloped neighbours to throw them against Greeks. It is not accidental that attacks against Greeks will never come by people such as the Chinese, Indians, Iranians or even the bulk of Arabs (who nominally should be interested in the case of muslim populations of Balkans and such). But they did come from a part of Slavs for well known reasons (not so much the case today, apart propaganda remnants such as US-backed FYROMians geopolitics are not such), and of course always came from the part of Germanoanglosaxons while French, Italians and Spanish rarely would do so - and note that Italians indeed had opposing geopolitical interests against Greeks, but then they are just too close to say such stupidities (at least for the southerners it is impossible to call Greeks Slavs and Albanians since that would go directly on them being the modern group of people the most close to modern Greeks).

    Of course normally if you were indifferent you would not even discuss about it. You never searched how Chech are Chechs or how Sudanese are Sudanese if you write an article criticising their economy or politics. But for Greeks, each time you have to criticise or attack them you have to bring it back to your a notion of history asking us to give you DNA certificates that all 10 million of us derive from father and mother from
    Pericles and Socrates.

    Why? Cos Greece can be financially attacked but Greeks they cannot be attacked through financial means. The key is to force them believe the lie. It is not me saying this, it is Henry Kissinger, the US main geopolitical strategistof the last 50 years now...

    ------------
    The Greek people are anarchic and difficult to tame. For this reason we must strike deep into their cultural roots: Perhaps then we can force them to conform. I mean, of course, to strike at their language, their religion, their cultural and historical reserves, so that we can neutralize their ability to develop, to distinguish themselves, or to prevail; thereby removing them as an obstacle to our strategically vital plans in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

    Henry Kissinger, addressing a group of Washington, D.C. businessmen in Sept.1974, said:
    ---------------

    As you see Kissinger is smart enough to know very well who we are and thus propose the "corresponding strategy" according to him.

    Now you know why are "oversensitive".

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  • 252. At 10:33am on 26 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    CBW... the Gunther and Stavros story is deceiving since, in reality Stavros does not ask money from Gunther. It asks Gunther and Jean-Pierre that EU banking institutions give Greece a reasonable loan and not profiting out of his difficult situation just because an outside banker, Johny said it is a good idea from today onwards to raise the interests for Stavros. Gunther will not lose any money. He will just make less of a profit - that according to Johnny.

    Anyway, the story is more complicated as the chef of Stavros, Papandreou, has already spoken with the chef of Johnny for whom he works and manipulated the situation all along mingling the interests of Johny and Gunther, leaving Stavros as the double-loser.

    See what they decided today? Both IMF & EU... thank you Papandreou, what I can say more... you are not a Greek man, but so much hatred against the country that (... indeed... mysteriously - I did not count all votes' origin!) voted you?

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  • 253. At 11:06am on 26 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    That must be what my Australian cousins mean when they call you "whingeing poms". All talk and no bloody action. Why bore us with your sob stories about losing your cherished sovereignty if you're not prepared to do anything about it? It's pathetic.

    France may have more nominal Muslims, but I saw more burqas in London than Dubai. The French-coined "Londonistan" is particularly apt.

    @Chris Camp

    No, unreconstructed fascism is the preposterous notion that the Parthenon Marbles (not the Elgin, thank you very much) are in any way British. Time to send them back where they really belong, and that isn't a stuffy, windowless burial chamber in a dilapidated old building on your gloomy little island.

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  • 254. At 11:26am on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Nik@251,

    I am delighted to have given you something to smile about.

    Nothing else seems to offer that prospect.

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  • 255. At 11:54am on 26 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re253: Makednws don't dream any EU without Britain. Cos either you (and British) like it or not it is the anti-European side of British circles that have the upper hand, and it is them who decide and funnily they decide to stay in - of course, ignoring the will of British people. Why? Can't it be more obvious. Outside the EU, Britain is an island on its own, it may far nicely, even much better (and that might be much better for British people) buuuuttttt... it won't have any saying on what is going on on the continental side. If Germans buy Russian gas, and if French exchange missiles with teh Russians it won't be of any concern of the British. And that will be a great concern for Americans of course.

    Now you (and the British) know why.

    PS: De Gaul was a man who had been helped seriously by the British restoring Fench name in the world. Yet, he firmly believed that EU cannot move on with Britain inside, and as long as he was there, Britain could not get in. Pompidou let finally Britain inside in early 70s (a time very agitated for Britain on all fronts) - there was even a song about it "Thank you Mr. Pompidou"... I dedicate it to EUprisoner, DemocracyThreat, Maxsceptic and even Marcus and in general all anti-EU guys - this comment is not ironic (anyway, I join the "anti" club too!): the song is kitch, and thus in its context a good laugh! it will make their day)!

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  • 256. At 12:00pm on 26 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re254: Max, our life is too short to sit and have worries about paying this % more tax and such. We take it as it is and do our best. If I analyse the situation and present the difficult political situation of Greece and its current geostrategic deficit that is much more serious actually than its financial deficit, it is because I just do the analysis. I still can smile no matter the gloomy atmosphere of this crisis. My grandfather in WWII went to the war front with a smile, so am I his grandson or not? As an analyst I do tend to analyse more the worst-case scenarios mostly, this is something natural. Outside that I remain optimist.

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  • 257. At 12:03pm on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    MACEDNVS @253,

    It is indeed 'bloody action' that I hope we can all avoid by stopping this stupid onward march to 'ever closer union'.

    I am delighted that you have made your feelings about England so clear. I'm sure that your scorn will extend to rejecting British financial contributions to the EU coffers for 'redistribution' to recipient countries (such as the one you most probably come from).

    I agree, however, about your derision of 'Londonistan'. Fortunately for me, I don't live there.

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  • 258. At 1:12pm on 26 Mar 2010, Maastricht1992 wrote:

    How comes that out of a sudden Greece seems to be the only country in financial crisis? Isn't it true that while Greece's dept is 112.6% of GDP Italy's dept is even higher, 114.6%? While the fact that greek public deficit is 12.5% of GDP (more than four times the official eurozone limit) doesn't go unnoticed, the fact that UK has a public deficit of 13% does! And everybody's still talking about Greece...

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  • 259. At 1:30pm on 26 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    My feelings about England are commensurate with your feelings about Europe, and southern Europe in particular. You didn't think you had a monopoly on disdain, did you? In my travels around the Continent, as you would call it, I was amused to learn that nobody else liked the Brits much either. Don't take it too personally; you only reap what you sow.

    Given that your budget deficit is currently higher than Greece's as a proportion of GDP, I doubt you're in any position to contribute to the EU coffers at all. I therefore reserve the right to inflict my scorn as I see fit.

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  • 260. At 1:34pm on 26 Mar 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    One thing is certain; the Greek are not slav.

    They don't exist without sea, who ever saw Greeks without sea.
    While slavs can manage without excellently well, as has been observed in many places. Whole big slav groups live sea-less and don't bother.

    There is of course, this atavistic yearning :o))), once a year to Black Sea and no other ideas of hols ever come to mind.

    Still, a picture of a wide wide field, stretching beyond the horizon, flat, (desirably in white snow) huge table-cloth kind of even spread
    - always gives satisfaction. The fact is whole big slav groups lived milleniums without sea resort holidays and didn't know they are lacking in something.

    While Greeks without sea will be like a fish on the shore.

    Turks by the way, can handle non-sea life well as well. They'd always approve of a feather-grass field, or? something dry and flat under their feet.

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  • 261. At 1:40pm on 26 Mar 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Nik

    Re #255

    Charles De Gaulle was a long time ago, just like the Treaty of Rome & the UK EU Accession Treaty, 1975.
    None of them should be binding on UK/England in 2010: Anymore than they should be for the 450,000,000 other EU Citizens. However, of course, it would involve Brussels in a complete about face - - the adoption of truly Democratic procedures - - so, like the present UK/England Governments the chances of really valid, Citizen Mandated policies are unlikely to be realised at present.

    That said I firmly believe You misunderstand and miscalculate the strength of the UK/England in the 2nd decade of the 21st Century.

    The British Isles contain 60,000,000 people and the number rises every year (whether wanted or not).

    It is simply the reverse of Economic-reality to try to suggest a 'Market' of 60+million is going to be ignored by Continental EUrope, Russia or the rest of the World.

    Of course the UK/England (even if, as I hope, full UK devolution comes about there's 50+million English) will still have a 'say' & be able to negotiate Trade, Energy, Transport deals etc. Why would a UK/England outside the EU lose its own right & responsibility to responsibly join with the World in Economic-Fiscal etc. arrangements?

    Unencumbered from unneeded allegiance to Brussels's interests & hopefully minus the complexities & expensive drag of Scottish & Irish Union Nations (I suspect Wales would opt to stay with England, but it should be upto the Welsh) it is my contention England is still a resourceful Nation that can makes its independent way.

    It may be UK/England should give up its UN Security Council seat to the EU - - it more often than not presses for measures the British/English very largely disagree with - - same can be said for the membership of G8 & IMF: Why shouldn't UK/England dump those hugely costly remaining commitments from a colonial past into the wretchedly ambitious Brussels' lap?
    We have all seen in the last 2 to 3 months how well the EU coped with a relatively minor Greek crisis: So, let UK/England turn the tables - - let the EU take the World stage it so desparately craves (& envies G.B. having) and see how it copes when its 26 Membership find themselves dipping their Tax-payers monies into Worldwide relief/aid packages - - to say nothing of UNO requirements for Military interventions/ventures - - oh yes! That truly international element of the newly empowered Brussels will all go down so well with the EUropean Citizens already largely ignored and sidelined by their Brussels' political elite leadership.

    Personally, I can see UK/England doing very well Economically-Socially-Judicially freed from the 'international power' commitments it really no longer has to undertake. My one stipulation would be for the UK/England following Referendum (hopefully, from my viewpoint) remaining a firm member of NATO & leading member of the Commonwealth - - that Nik, is the only area that would concern the USA (after adjustment to no longer having the guaranteed UK Security Council vote on its side) about a UK/England withdrawal from the EU - - provided we hold to the Atlantic Alliance & maintain close relations with the former colonies nothing else matters.
    Yes, independent UK/Engand will survive: It is not a serious argument to think the EU26 would cease trading, using, developing relations with a 'market' of so many millions - - neither would it be on EU-only terms of reference - - the EU needs to compete with other interested Nations seeking a competitive edge for 'business profitability' among those UK millions.

    I also foresee an EU-Brussels getting the spotlight as it fumbles around for a way to convince an increasingly dubious EU Citizen Electorate the EU has anything but immensely grandiose 'big-Business/big-Government' enterprises in mind at the centre of the World!

    Is EUrope really up for such a Worldwide role and challenge? On the evidence of the last few months and indeed the last decade the last thing the EU can manage is its own affairs never mind those of needy Nations & international institutions - - still, from my viewpoint, so long as UK/England gets out of the whole dangerously unwieldy, corrupt, venal, undemocratic, one-size-fits-all entity the rest of it is for others within it to decide.

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  • 262. At 1:59pm on 26 Mar 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "Time to send them back where they really belong"

    Unfortunately for all of us, time machines do not exist.

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  • 263. At 2:10pm on 26 Mar 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    #250 Cool_Brush_Work

    No , You have never seen " Crapstone Villas ".

    It was a series of short animation films made in Britain by an ITV company . The setting was a street like in " East Enders ", the characters were were ugly figures of people made of plasterscene(sp).

    One of my favourite scenes was when the principal couple had been out for dinner at a pub or restaurant . They suffered from food poisoning afterwards . You see them sitting in bed together taking turns to vomit into the kitchen washing up bowl which is already overflowing with sick . The slightly obese ugly daughter , who wears all the latest fashion gear with very short skirts , tries to stroke the family cat , that flies into her face and bites half of it off .

    It may not sound very funny as I describe it , but as seen on TV it was hilarious . It used to be shown one evening a week rather late in the evening . If your are curious , it may be available on video or DVD from Amazon .

    Reading James's acount of Gunter and Stavros and then of Tommy sleeping rough , these characters seemed to fit the same image .

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  • 264. At 2:41pm on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Maastricht1992 @258,

    The UK's public deficit is indeed a disgrace. But, unlike Greece, we are not in the EUrozone which confers flexibility (and prohibits us from going cap in hand to the German taxpayer).

    Italy is a different case as, in addition to high rates of saving and a massive black economy, as a nation it is actually very productive and produces lots of nice things that people worldwide actually want to buy (think Armani, Fiat 500s, Foods & Wines, Prada, etc). I don't know how they do it, but they sure do it with style.

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  • 265. At 3:24pm on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    MACEDNVS @259 wrote:

    "Given that your budget deficit is currently higher than Greece's as a proportion of GDP, I doubt you're in any position to contribute to the EU coffers at all. I therefore reserve the right to inflict my scorn as I see fit."

    Sure, sure...

    But you're not to proud to accept our money, right?

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  • 266. At 4:34pm on 26 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    What money? You don't have any. And since when is "proud" a verb?

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  • 267. At 6:06pm on 26 Mar 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    MACEDNVS @266,

    Feel free to correct my English (to/too - typos happen).

    Britain is a nett contributor to the EU.
    Greece is a nett beneficiary of EU funds.

    Ergo, Greece receives money from UK taxpayers.

    It must feel pretty low to have to accept handouts from people one loathes.

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  • 268. At 7:00pm on 26 Mar 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    @MaxSceptic

    It feels indifferent, actually. Greece has never asked for a single penny from "UK taxpayers". The decision to contribute to the EU budget has been made by the governments you have elected. Don't blame the Greeks for your own impotence.

    If you don't like it, you know what to do. Why don't you do it? It really can't come a moment too soon.

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  • 269. At 10:55pm on 26 Mar 2010, crow531 wrote:

    Germany is rich and as managed it's affair well. So take treir money and give to Greece, who failed to manage well. You do it all the time to your tax payers Your political system is based on it. If you can do it to indivuals why not nations.

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  • 270. At 2:10pm on 27 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re 269: Crow531, we are not going to repeat the same. Read my 210, 213, 224 points which no-one so far here ever opposed:

    Greeks are paying very dearly their entry in EU. They give their precious money to take back aids given in the form of money to projects not needed or needed in different forms, so that German & French companies have bigger order lists - so much to the point of perhaps being better Greece just paying the EU without receiving anything back (I am not kidding here, I refer you to the typical case of 400 million 50% EU-funded project where Greece finally ends up paying 600 millions).

    It is clear that Germany managed her affairs well while making sure others like Greece totally mismanaged theirs. Germany among other directly contributed to the mismangament and endemic corruption of the system. Since its entry in the EEC in 1978, Greece saw its corruption rising not 2, 3 but 10 times more and even that is an understatement. EEC/EU funded directly corruption and that was in full knowledge of EEC/EU leadership.

    Germans claiming "they did not know" and accusing of secret handlings and lies Greece, a state where even the "secret" number of the prime minister is being watched (you know by whom), is a BIG LIE to all Europeans. Angela Merkel is fooling Germans (who are too gullible to question her) and Europeans. Giorgakis Papandreou too is fooling Greeks and all Europeans - his party is majorly responsible for the problem, he kickstarted the crisis and he tried to lead things to this compromise involving the IMF so as to serve the interests of his co-patriot Americans (Giorgakis is a US citizen and has declared his allegiances to global governance clearly, Greece and EU are of little interest to him).

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  • 271. At 1:56pm on 28 Mar 2010, Makeze wrote:

    Re: 270: Nick, where do you get this? Germany pushing the practice of corruption in greece? I am no fan of Merkel, but I never heard such utter nonsense. How on earth could Germany profit from a corrupt and destablizied Greece in the EU?
    This current euro-crisis can't be it. Also Germanys economy largely relies on exports. What does Germany export? Expensive Cars, state of the art machinery and (sadly) high tech military equipment and weaponry. I find it very hard to grasp, how Germany could be interested in ruining a country so they could not afford any of those things.
    The greeks have a way more laissez-faire way of life. The Germans tend to do everything by the books. Maybe this is the reason why these countries are so different. It could be that this is why the Germans can be almost overly-efficient, but also the reason why they like to go to Greece, Spain or Italy during the holidays: because they dream of living la vida loca, which they can't do at home.

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  • 272. At 2:50pm on 28 Mar 2010, Nik wrote:

    Makeze, its easy to bring it all down to la vida local and such but then you should ask yourself what is the basis of all that? Ask yourself if Germany, France.... Britain (and of course US, the founding godfather), want little countries like Greece to run by the book. Are you serious? In what world you live?

    Countries with less corruption are more difficult to be exploited. Countries with endemic corruption are more easy, you enter, you pay a considerable amount (but not a lot, only what is sufficient) to 10-20 people (usually family dynasties) which in turn will return the favour by giving rise to politicians of their liking who will run the country. Since they won't do anything good for the country, to remain in power for long they will need to create a system where the life of citizens itself depends upon their will to give a "present" or not. Hence they create a fantastic system - that actually works (but not for the economy) where there is a facade of an as-if established state and from behind everything runs by pulling strings.

    Greece was governed 2 times quite independently to be legitimately called a free country, once was in the times of Kapodistrias and the other in the times of Metaxas. What do you know about them (both murdered...). And what do you know about the rest?

    What do you know about Papandreou clan? 3 generations, they run the country to its ruin for more than 60 years. They are not even Greek, not in ethnic origins and even in citizenship they share the Greek one with US citizenship (remember who else prime-minister, president in the greater area has US citizenship?). This Giorgakis Papandreou was voted for 10 years as one of the worst politicians yet he wins his parties' elections to get the leadership and then he wins these sudden (sudden e?) elections. Before you commend on why Greeks voted for him you should understand the amount of manipulation. For the last years I have been living in another EU country due to personal affairs, so while I have been at continuous contact with Greece which I visit often, everyday I read the newpapers and such, on the other I have been a sufficient distance to see things more clearly (getting also all the info I get here at the 3 EU countries I move around - due to work).

    So I will tell you one thing: You just cannot imagine the amount of manipulation that is excersised in Greece upon the citizens - which can only be compared to the amount of manipulation the other European citizens are subject too.

    People thought that the Germans and the Greeks had a disagreement when in fact Merkel and Papandreou are both pro-US and worked hand in had to push aside those that are anti-US (not ideologically, I mean it in business terms).

    Greece's previous governement (which by they way I did not support), tried to do the 2 most important strategic deals the country would make for the last 50 years: Russian gas & the leasing of Greek ports to the Chinese. I do not even need to tell you that only these two projects could have a huge positive impact in the economy of Greece.

    Yet EU countries like Britain (first of all!), Germany (that is already on its own project with Russians!), reacted violently opening full-scale war against the Greek governemet, while the US was doing lectures (see, it is of their interest to lecture countries how they are run). I need not repeat the amount of venom, that Greece received the last 3 years up to the 2009 elections, the 3-times more summer fires with 10s of victims (you have to see the satelite pictures to understand - oh and we almost never had victims), the murders of young students by bullets "coming from above", the youth taking it to the streets breaking everything (and most of them actually being sons of politicians, journalists, publishers, judiciary responsibles, and all the sediments of society...) and now they use against us even the illegal immigrants who want mosques paid by the state and such (in a country that suffered millions in genocides made and celebrated by muslims...).

    Now, Mr Papandreou's main order from the US that got him there to govern, is to cancel the deals with Russians and stop talking with Chinese, to make deals buying 2ice more expensively the Saoudi liquified gas, to make citizens of all illegal immigrants so Greeks' voice (by now fed up by the situation) to be a slight majority if not a minority in future (in a future where the 30% of the population will be muslims and will welcome any attack from by then muslim Turkey re-becoming Ottoman), and in general to weaken the country to the extend of not being able not only to move but also not being able to think even the basics. The country will remain there in a vegetable-condition since that is the way US thinks it serves its interests. And it will remain corrupted and in a bad financial condition, it is just in a few months they won't talk a lot about it anymore like they did not used to talk a lot about it all these years.

    You have no idea of what I talk about. So better leave it. What I talk is based on numbers and facts. What you and many other people talk here is just waste and sleazy comments of the style Germans work, Greeks have fun. Well no, go straight to statistics and see for yourself. They say Germans give and Greeks receive, well I gave you all the figures from BBC links, what else do you need to see - one must be I-do-not-know-what not to be able to see the facts and realise what is the actual conditions.

    During these 6 months, of the crisis, I have lost all good faith to the EU. Countries like Germany (and of course Britain) and the inability of France to say anything about it, are lowering this Union to the case of being a cornershop for the US. So be it. I do not suggest Greece should be out of the EU cos given the venom against it, if it remains alone, it will be obliterrated and Greeks will have the future of northern Cypriots (i.e. they will be massacred, even genocided and kicked out of their place). So better survive in the vegetable position keeping the hope that you can strike back when interests or the balance of power changes, than play all your cards and risk destroying yourself.

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  • 273. At 11:57pm on 30 Mar 2010, Seraphim wrote:

    Maybe it is due to being German in the first place, but I see a clear difference between not meeting the criterias of the Maastricht treaty (which is obviously shameful enough itself) in comparison to not meeting them and even sending false datas to Brusseles over years and decades so that nobody would guess you are playing foul.

    Well either way sending money to Greece (or other PIIGS) would be political suicide for Mrs Merkel and her center liberal coalition is anything but in a shape to risk an uproar from 90% of the voters. Though most of the really drop dead stupid ideas and laws came from the small lib party, she is in the same boat with them for the next 3.5 years. The only way I can see them selling it to the voters is if the EU dictates it (which should be possible due to qualified majority votes) but while most Germans accept that we pay more for the EU than we get out of it in the first place, being forced to save other countries such as Greece who received money for years and still cheated would really drive people mad here towards the EU.

    Especially as the new national law not to make any new public debts starts kicking in slowly (which I think makes a lot of sense). The goverment will need to make severe cuts even without shipping money abroad - well on the other hand while seeing that some people live on breeding more and more children who'll never be able to get qualified jobs because they never learned it from their of course jobless parents - I guess there is still a lot of space to further cut into the social system to stop this abuse

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  • 274. At 1:47pm on 12 Apr 2010, Makeze wrote:

    Dear Nick,

    WOW, thats certainly some theories you have there! But I still don't get how any of this would benefit Germany at all. Could you please explain that?
    You also don't explain why an estimated 20% of the Greek economy is black-market (i.e. no taxes paid) which was no government decision;
    And why the Greek government lied about their financial household to the EU (whom by your theory are their allies in conspiracy).
    Furthermore you write a lot about external dangers to Greece from without the EU (USA and Ottomans), but fail to claim why the EU is americas "lapdog" (Germany refused to join the Iraq-war and has a sound trade-surplus with the US).
    And do you seriously believe any european country would not step in immediatly in case of a Turkish assault (even though they show no such ambitions whatsoever)?
    I sadly don't have the time to read up everything you wrote, but I will take your word for it.
    And please don't call my comments waste or sleazy, that makes any kind of serious discussion very difficult.

    Regards, M.

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  • 275. At 4:08pm on 12 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Makeze, Germany as a country does not profit. German corporations profit. German citizens will be losers just like the bulk of Greek citizens (apart the ruling "mafia" and their "henchmen") are losers. However note that in reality German citizens are not so much losers as advertised. They would lose much more (and directly) if Greece ceased to buy German stuff. Why? Cos its economy was much smaller than its purchases of "development progress" all these years. So how about Germans sharing their % of EU aid while having enjoyed the bulk of major projects in Greece while, for example Portuguese (who will aid too with their contributions!!!) have not?

    Its a story for a comedy.

    As for external dangers of Greece, take it as it is: Greece is by far the most threatened state in Europe. It is since the 1970s on a silent war with Turkey and every couple of years there is a missile gone, a plane lost (usually turkish of course, they have a slow learning curve...). Actually right as I write these lines there are 2 Greek Mirage 2000 chasing 4 Turkish F16 (the usual ration...). Turkey invades Greek airspace at a rate of minimum 10 and maximum 30 aircrafts per day. Do you realise what it is all about?

    No EU will not aid. In fact, if Americans decide they are done with Greece, they will order EU to take it out, and then they will let Turkey attack and grab half the islands of the Aegean securing the commercial paths and the oil for the US (not for them of course!).

    That is to say "if". It does not mean necessarily it will. But it shows why Greeks have no choice either. Protection may come only if Russia enters in with its own base kicking out the US base. But this will have to happen in 1 day. Otherwise Greece is in trouble.

    In the meanwhile you cannot imagine what the US has prepared for Greece (and it does not come in the form of the "official turkish army", but in other forms, much worse).

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