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Greek press welcomes Merkel despite protests

Published: 10 Oct 2012 11:10 GMT+02:00

Merkel's visit - the first since the start of Greece's crisis - came as the government of Antonis Samaras struggled to finalise a €13.5-billion package of austerity cuts.

Greece must approve the measures to unlock a loan slice of the package from its outstanding EU-IMF bailout that has been stalled since June.

"Merkel sends strong message on November deal," said centre-left Ethnos daily.

"The visit confirmed the positive climate that now characterises relations with Germany...so barring any unforeseen developments, there should not be any concern about the disbursement of the loan tranche," Ethnos said.

More sceptical, financial daily Naftemboriki said the visit was "a mainly symbolic gesture" without practical results.

The austerity package must be approved by the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank before the loan slice is released sometime next month.

"She came, she saw, she pledged," said top-selling Ta Nea daily. "With her visit, Merkel ended a Greek isolation period of two-and-a-half years. Though she carefully worded her public statements, she succeeded in giving a strong message of support," the centre-left daily said.

Some 30,000 people demonstrated in Athens against the German chancellor's visit and a smaller demonstration was held in Thessaloniki, according to police reports.

Sporadic clashes broke out near the parliament building in Athens when a few dozen protesters threw bottles and stones at police who fired back tear gas.

Over 200 people were detained for questioning before and during the protests in the capital and 24 of them were arrested.

But most of the German media apparently judged the trip a failure in terms of bringing the two countries together.

"Merkel's visit was intended as a goodwill gesture but it is doubtful that her quiet expressions of sympathy were heard by the demonstrators," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily commented.

Meanwhile, German government politicians have heavily criticised Bernd Riexinger, chairman of the socialist Left party, for joining protesters in Athens to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel's euro policies.

Riexinger joined Greece's far-left activists on Sytagma Square outside the Greek parliament on Tuesday as violence erupted on the streets of the city during the chancellor's visit.

Gerda Hasselfeldt, Bavarian state leader for the Christian Social Union, said it was "unprecedented and outrageous" that the chairman of a party represented in the German Bundestag should "use the anti-German protests in Athens as a stage to promote policies that go against the interests of his own country," she told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

Patrick Döring, general secretary of the CSU's government coalition partner the Free Democratic Party (FDP), accused Riexinger of deliberately breaking foreign policy convention and escalating tensions in Athens.

Riexinger justified his actions by saying he was protesting "for the interests of German taxpayers." Merkel had "dumped tax-euros into the European banking swamp," he told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

"Merkel should have faced the desperate people in Athens, instead of just meeting officials, ministers, and companies," he added.

The Local/AFP/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:52 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
All cosy at the top. Nice Euro keeping the big boys happy. Don't go near the street though Angie. You will see and hear differing opinions in the EuroZone. The rest of the EU are not so easy herd like sheep as your German BILD readership.
12:33 October 10, 2012 by MrNosey
How many accounts at The Local does a communist moron like you need to feel happy?
12:42 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
So MrNose. Anybody disagreeing with the Euro and not blaming the Greeks is a communist? How do you figure that one out?
15:29 October 10, 2012 by MrNosey
Anybody harping on about German nazis ruling the EU is a closet communist and definitely an uneducated racist. You think the Greeks are innocent little children and not completely to blame for the crisis afflicting their country? They made their own problem and now want everyone else to solve it for them.
15:33 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Really MrNosey. Not allowed to critise the German government for practices they are currently using. Let me see, where did that happen before? Maybe you are the closet nazi. By the way, for your info. I am not a communist. I have totally differing views to you though.
16:41 October 10, 2012 by smart2012
Mr NOsey, we r not saying all germans are crap, we are saying markel did crap. If you would have had a person like Kohl, the situation today would be different
16:48 October 10, 2012 by Wise Up!
Can't blame the Greek protesters much on this one. As long as the Germans are dumb enough to keep paying, they'd be crazy not to keep asking for more, more, more.......
17:38 October 10, 2012 by Paranoid_Android
Berlin für alles, it seems you should do a little reading up.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13798000
18:24 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@Paranoid_Android.

Exactly my point. 'Greece was living beyond its means even before it joined the euro. After it adopted the single currency, public spending soared.'

Why was Greece let into the EuroZone in the first place if they obviously could not manage their public expenses. Then they were lent even more money. If I was stupid enough to lend money to someone who could not hope to repay me then that would be my hard luck so why are the banks being bailed out for doing so? Why was the lending continued and increased in light of Greece's financial background and history?
19:02 October 10, 2012 by Paranoid_Android
@ Berlin für Alles,

Here's a link to answer your question of why Greece was let into the Euro zone in the first place:

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/06/business/euro-summit-explainer/index.html

To quote: "...some countries were suspected of fudging their numbers, including Greece which in 2004 admitted it gave misleading information to gain admission to the eurozone. "
19:19 October 10, 2012 by smart2012
Lets again remind to short memory people that first country in 2003 not meeting Maastricht requirements was Germany. Eu proposed to put in place financial controls on countries and banks to prevent this again and Germany said "nein". With those controls Greek issue would have been found much much earlier (prior to 2008 financial crisis) which would have helped.

Second, Germany has happily made business (even with corruption cases - see Siemens) with Greece, business of course which was supported by Greece having euro.

So,as per above, u can see that situation is not so black or white like Bild wants to show..

And luckily not all people are silly. Read, inform yourself, look at history, otherwise we will all go back to the beginning of Europe (ww2) and have a ww3
19:23 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@Paranoid

fudging numbers was expected and a blind eye turned in order to get Greece in to the EuroZone. The question you are failing to ask is 'Why?'.
19:38 October 10, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@Berlin fuer alles

'fudging numbers was expected and a blind eye turned in order to get Greece in to the EuroZone. The question you are failing to ask is 'Why?'.'

The reason is because traditionally, Greece would have just gone bankrupt after accumulation this much debt. Just like Iceland or Argentina, or any number of examples. But now, since Greece is in the EU, it can't go bankrupt! And will be held accountable for the debt. Well they won't be, someone who co-signed with the Greeks, a Guarantor (the German tax payer) will be on the hook.

So now, German Government gets to

1. extract the money from German Tax payers, refinance its own banks and investments

2. Take control of the Eurozone

3. Force Taxpayers to repay the Government for a bailout paid for by the same Taxpayers.

win, win, win, win, all day.
19:49 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
nail on the head IchBin

Couldn't have Greece defaulting when oweing the German Banks. Need to keep them up at all costs (tax payers, not just German) to keep this gravy train rolling. By being in the Eurozone they were able to borrow even more which was not good for them or the Euro tax paying citizens. Like a teenager who cannot handle his finances. What do you do, give him even more credit cards and then get the rest of the family to repay his debts.
01:38 October 11, 2012 by Hendrich Stein
This paper claims, 30,000 people demonstrated in Athens against the German chancellor's visit, UK guardian claims 50,000, Greece's media claims 85,000... how many is it? I am confused.

Bernd Riexinger has proudly displayed to the world that Germany is truly democratic, supporting a country where democracy it was invented, and with a brave outspoken voice that should be void of any suppression.

His critics display the contrary under their protectionist guise, isolating themselves from a contemporary globe.

Bernd displays a warm hearted intent of contemporary Germans, their compassion, and tolerance. We need politicians like this that could compliment Germany's industrial and monetary achievements than jeopardize them with callous disregard to great risks. We should applaud than criticize his attendance with a member of Greece's opposition who may very well become their PM someday.
03:21 October 11, 2012 by Wolfgang Fritz
To clear up some misconceptions and illustrate was has happened and is happening:

After 14 consecutive years of economic growth, Greece went into recession in 2008 amid the global financial meltdown. By the end of 2009, the Greek economy faced the highest budget deficit in the EU as the rest of Europe rebound.

Between 2008 and 2012 unemployment skyrocketed, from 7.2% to a high of 24.4%, youth at 55%. The 5 million Greeks work the most hours/year among European nations. Yet, the average income fell from 20,457 euros in 2010 to 15,729 in 2011.

Greece was accepted into the Euro in 2000, based on a number of criteria. In 2004, Eurostat revealed that budget deficit had been under-reported. Most of the differences were due to a change of accounting , i.e., recording expenses when material was ordered rather than received. raising the deficit to 3.38% of GDP, thus exceeding the 3% limit.(similar claims have been made about Italy) and perception Greece entered through "falsified" numbers. Around 10% difference.

Another error very frequently made in the media regarding Greece¦#39;s Eurozone entry regards usage of derivatives with U.S. Banks to artificially reduce their reported deficits with Goldman Sachs after 2001 (when Greece had already been admitted).

The failed austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF has been met with anger by the Greek public.The government deficit has not been reduced, Consequently, the country's debt to GDP continues to rise and rapidly at that.

The downgrading of Greek government debt to junk bond status in April 2010 created credit alarm so high that capital markets were no longer available to Greece as a funding source.

In mid-May 2012 the elections led to strong speculation Greece would leave the Euro. However, a pro austerity government was formed as all parties reiterate their intent to remain in the euro, as do over 80% of the suffering and hard working population who have nothing to do with creating their profound woes. Contagion is the worst outcome as other nations also suffer.

If Greece is granted the two extra years to restore their fiscal balance, this will either require creditor revisions.

Publication of the Troika's "surveillance report" is delayed into the first half of November, needs to be known amid a decision to withhold €31.5bn loan originally scheduled for August. It is also essential that Greek parliament pass a new, added, €13.5bn austerity package in October 2012. The Greek government proposes to introduce €7.8bn in 2013 to lower the deficit from 8.4% to 4.2% of GDP, and with the remaining €5.7bn in 2014.

If Greece does not receive the withheld bailout disbursement by the end of November, the government will run out of money ,,,and face a default.
18:49 October 24, 2012 by raandy
Mrs Merkel is not responsible for the Greek incompetence ,the creative accounting or the early retirement, and the indebtedness. Their elected officials are.

Greek needs are many and to get help from countries that managed their economies wisely ] they need to be a little more humble and accept the austerity.

The visit by Mrs Merkel is a statement that she does not want them to exit the zone.
01:00 October 26, 2012 by PNWDev
@smartguy

Kohl, Hollande, Draghi, Bild, Merkel, who have I left off your list?

You only promote Hollande because you subscribe to his left wing view of the world. Why else would one worship and promote a name of a man with no experience and too short of a tenure to demonstrate any accomplishments? Please tell me which crisis he has managed in his career that directly correlates to this current EU crisis and whereby there is demonstrable evidence his socialistic view led to a beneficial solution that solved the challenges?

Throwing out political names in the middle of a crisis and using hypothetical day-dreams of saying your guy would have steered Germany away from your world war 3 conspiracy does not in any way legitimize your argument, but rather makes you look simpleton. Why? Because such a comment is not testable as the crisis cannot be rewound and run with a new set of players managing it.

By the way, have you seen the latest French opinion polls on your boy? A whopping 36% approval rating. Pffff, like it was any secret a socialist would ever have success managing a quasi-capitalistic society.

And as a far as Bild goes, there is no greater advertiser in all of Germany for Bild than you.
10:03 October 29, 2012 by jpl82
@ raandy

Of course Merkel is not responsible for the Greek problems originally. However the Troika has made matters far worse in every country they have entered Greece, Portugal, Ireland and soon Spain.

They did their sums and worked out how much pain the country could endure, still survive and demanded the upper limit (makes some sense as long as you adapt the upper limit with new information). As the IMF report said they got their sums wrong by a quite a large margin.

The German government in particular Mrs Merkel have been central to the insistence on non adoption of the tactics with the reality of the situation. This exacerbates the problem resulting in needless suffering in these countries and as such Mrs Merkel is a legitimate targets for criticism.
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