Greece: Merkel's euro headache returns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a youth union convention in Rostock, 5 October  It will be Angela Merkel's first visit since the bailouts

The moment will be watched closely. On Tuesday the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will visit Athens. It will be her first visit to Greece since the crisis erupted nearly three years ago.

She is regarded by many Greeks as the author of austerity. She is held responsible for demanding that Greece make swingeing cuts in exchange for the two bailouts it has received. The German flag has been burnt at demonstrations and one paper has dressed Angela Merkel in a Nazi uniform.

The visit will spark protests. The Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, says "we will receive her as befits the leader of a great power and friendly country".

The unions see it differently. They have called demonstrations against what they call the "neo-liberal policies of Mrs Merkel and the EU's core leadership". The radical leftist party Syriza is planning a rally against the visit. A right-wing party intends to go to the German embassy to protest the "transformation of our country into a German protectorate".

The meeting is a gamble. If there is chaos it will only underline for the German public that Greece is a lost cause. Angela Merkel, however, is making a calculation. She is signalling that she wants Greece to stay in the eurozone. She has silenced German politicians who in early summer were saying a Greek exit held no fears for them.

"This is symbolically very important," says Carsten Brzeski, senior European economist at ING. "It points clearly to the fact that Merkel is not going to drop Greece, even though things are not going well for them."

Talks between the Greek goverment and the so-called troika - debt inspectors from the EU, IMF and ECB - are continuing. Greece has to find 13bn euros (£10.5bn; $17bn) in savings to qualify for a 31bn loan.

The Greek finance minister says "there are differences that have not been settled". Without the loan Greece will run out of money by the end of November.

Today the troika will be in Luxembourg for the meeting of eurozone finance ministers. They will deliver an update. The crucial decisions lie ahead, probably later in October. Chancellor Merkel's instinct is for a fudge. But here's the problem. Greece's public debt is 346bn euros, 179% of GDP. It is heading into the sixth year of recession. There is no way it can reach the targets set for it.

Sooner or later the big questions will have to be answered. Does Greece need a further restructuring of its debt as the IMF is hinting, or even a third bailout?

In the meantime the Greek prime minister is warning that conditions in Greece are similar to those in the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s. Plenty for Chancellor Merkel to think about.

Gavin Hewitt Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    @ powermeerkat.

    Why the anti-Macedonian attack? The UK recognises Macedonia and the BBC is British.

    Strange how you are so uninformed as to not recognise the country to the north of Greece. It smacks of immature Greek ultra-nationalism.

    But, then again, Greeks have been found in breech of international law, EU legislation and Euro zone regulations.

    Your open racism is sad more than shocking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    "invest in Macedonia. It's like Greece, but without Greeks."

    There's no such country as Macedonia. Due to Greek pressure there only a 'territorial entity called FYROM".

    "Where are you from?

    - FYROM!

    - But, you know, I mean where from?

    - FYROM!

    - You're pulling my leg, right?

    - No, I'm not. I'm from FYROM.

    - Oh, sweet Jesus! Not yet another stand-up comedian! :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Angela: "germany gave US and Russia, people (germans as sclaves),raw materials,machines,know-how etc."

    I assume you meant 'slaves'.

    Can you clarify what Germans were slaving for US after WWII, and what machines/raw materials have been ever transfered to U$A?"

    Considering US had at that time a quite superior technology&industry?

    [with von Braun being indebted to Robert Goddard?]

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    austriacus: "Your interest in the Polish contribution to defeating the Turks makes me assume that the ancestor You mentioned may have been Polish."

    He was a (lowly) officer in Hussaria in that battle:paying from his own pocket for his (heavy) horses, armor, pages, etc., as was the custom.

    The motto in those days being: "Honor, Duty, Country".

    [Ah, snows of yesteryears]

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    "Merkel is responsible... she has chosen to sell Greece German submarines whilst imposing massive loans on them!"

    If I offered you today a G. Ford class aircraft carrier, complete with a SuperHornet wing, would you buy it, even if I offered a big discount without asking yourself :
    1. do I really need it?
    2. can I really afford it?
    I could try to sell it, but you wouldn't have to buy it

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    austriakus to PM: "Today, Poland is one of the supporters of European integration."

    True, but no longer of its eurozone. I visit countries like Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, etc. at least once a year. 2 years ago many Poles still yearned for euro. Not anymore. While Slovaks (just like Slovenes) curse their lot and travel for any bigger shopping to southern Poland where things are @ 30% cheaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    Merkel is responsible... she has chosen to sell Greece German submarines whilst imposing massive loans on them!

    Where is the sense in that madness?!

    Merkel stands for everything that is bad and wrong in Europe and the EU - another German who is power-mad. Getting to be a habit this isnt it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Wow, an article about AM visiting the protectorate suddenly becomes a waspish Greek "patriots" v Greek patriots and the educated masses argument.

    AM is telling the Greek PM to grow some. She wants a stable Euro, Greek loans to be paid. The rest of us would also like to see some Greek humility following years of criminality.

    For me, invest in Macedonia. It's like Greece, but without Greeks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    war reparations. Germany payed in full WW1, last payment was on March(?) this year. After WWII all other countrie spayed in money exept Germany. germany gave US and Russia, people (germans as sclaves),raw materials,machines,know-how etc. The Us then payed germany's due rerations. the reason was, that they did not want another war.the loan was 3.5 billion$ In 1946 greece received 7.1 billion $

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    A s a greek myself, I know very well what I am talking about Xenologe. I am not demonising anyone and even if I did, why is it only the prerogative of the greeks to demonise germans etc At least I do it with facts and you only throw around weasel words.Greek trait as well. What I am trying to say to all of us is that we have to take full responsibility of our mistakes and change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    hi PMK
    "Neither the movie, nor the book its based upon gives you any technical info re Hussaria's armor, weapons and military tacticts."

    Unlike You, I am not a specialist in military history. Your interest in the Polish contribution to defeating the Turks makes me assume that the ancestor You mentioned may have been Polish.

    Today, Poland is one of the supporters of European integration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    237. powermeerkat

    ''There's nothing to understand since US never supported Taliban.''

    Nope. It is even American retired military personel that speaks openly about how US espionage created, organized and pulled and keeps on pulling the strings in jihadist movements around the world.

    For the US, the jihadists are a very convenient geopolitical tool.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    8th October 2012 - 16:54
    "P.S. You may also want to read on Polish heavy Winged Hussaria (not to be confused with ..)."

    austriacus: "I have the movie "Ogniem i Mieczem = with Fire and Sword", thanks..."

    Neither the movie, nor the book its based upon gives you any technical info re Hussaria's armor, weapons and military tacticts.

    And that's all I meant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    8th October 2012 - 17:46

    "I fail to understand why the U.S needed to support the taliban in the first place?"

    There's nothing to understand since US never supported Taliban.

    Taliban has been created (with a little help from ISI) in Pakistan's madrassas in 1994, long after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and after US lost interest in A.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    6000 - Police on duty for the Queen's visit to Ireland
    7000 - Police on duty for the 'Queen's' visit to Greece

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Whilst the average German voter is moving towards recognising their duty to those countries who suffer for Germany's advantages from the Euro, views aren't shifting as fast as they were - for their own benefit the German population needs to recognise the damage to their own economy if the Euro looses it's weaker nations, & frankly cough up because they can afford to several times over.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    How sweet...the Empress of Europe visits her southern dominions. Hope she gets the warm welcome she deserves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    230. austriacus

    ''If the Greeks continue to display their hatred during her visit, it will further isolate them in the international community.''

    4000-5000 protesters with ''Angela Raus'' placards is NOT ''the Greek people''. As said, such a protest will be ''organised'' (i.e. set up) in Athens. Greek people while not satisfied with Angela's games do know decision making is elsewhere

  • Comment number 231.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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