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German FM: Be more like the hard-working Irish
Photo: DPA

German FM: Be more like the hard-working Irish

Published: 26 Oct 2012 15:51 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Oct 2012 15:51 GMT+02:00

Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said his country aimed to be the first ailing euro nation to exit a bailout programme as his German counterpart hailed Ireland as "an excellent example" of what "hard work" can achieve.

Speaking after talks in Berlin on Friday, Gilmore said: "We are determined to be the first country to successfully exit from such a programme and we are on our way to achieving that goal."

Ireland's EU-IMF bailout package worth 85 billion euros ($107 billion) is due to expire at the end of next year and the country hopes to regain full access to the financial markets at that point.

Both ministers also reaffirmed comments at the weekend made by their respective leaders that Ireland should be considered a special case when applying for banking aid from the eurozone's new bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

"Our economy returned to growth last year but we are carrying a very heavy burden of bank debt because our taxpayers were required to shoulder the full cost of the bank bailout," said Gilmore, who is also deputy prime minister.

"In view of these unique circumstances, we appreciate the commitment of Germany and our other EU partners to examine Ireland's special situation," he added.

For his part, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Ireland was "an excellent example that you can make it with discipline, with hard work and that you can work your way out of this debt crisis."

"We are full of respect for the Irish efforts. We are grateful for your efforts and your pro-European views and we admire the success story you are writing," added the minister.

Comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a summit last week of EU leaders that countries could not benefit retroactively from bank recapitalisation from the ESM spooked many in Ireland.

To assuage these fears, Dublin and Berlin issued a joint statement over the weekend insisting that the country's banks were a "specific case," a position later echoed by France.

Merkel's spokesman said she would meet Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Thursday in Berlin to discuss the eurozone crisis.

Dublin argues it should still benefit from bank recapitalisation funds because, unlike in the case of Greece, private investors were not forced to take a hit on their bond holdings.

Ireland had to seek an EU-IMF bailout in late 2010 after government efforts to keep its banking sector afloat left it virtually bankrupt, forcing it to seek outside help in return for tough and unpopular austerity measures.

Direct bank recapitalisation is meant to prevent banking crises from turning into national debt crises when governments are forced to bail out their financial sectors.

Westerwelle declined to comment on earlier remarks by a senior member of Merkel's conservative CDU party, Norbert Barthle, who said an application to the ESM would entail a new bailout programme and new strings attached.

"I can only say that if you look at the decisions of the German government and at the decisions of the German Bundestag, you see there is a huge majority for a pro-European direction," he said.

AFP/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:42 October 26, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Why stop at the Irish? It wouldn't be bad for the Germans to work as hard as the Turks, or the Greeks while their at it.
18:00 October 26, 2012 by quiller
I think with the different perspectives that exist between the EU, Germany/Finland/Holland, the EU Heads of State statement and the confusion over various statements. Irish and German governments running around like headless chickens calming one another, clarifying statements and markets. Have these people learnt nothing? Playing politics to their home audiences. The introduction and management of the Euro will have been seen by historians to be the biggest disaster faced by Europe since it's inception. The propping up of the banks by European governments - very often on a knee jerk response, will be seen to be disastrous. The banks should have been excoriated over their behaviour - lenders and borrowers. In many cases, they should have been let go to the wall. This week we have had the trial of a rogue broker in France - How come the rogue broker gets a trial while the rogue directors / regulators / managers are allowed to hold onto their jobs, bonuses, pensions?
19:16 October 26, 2012 by Englishted
Guido Westerwelle is a fool and our money are soon parted.

The Irish are not getting out of the bail out simply because their budget is 15 billion a year short of balancing .
19:23 October 26, 2012 by raandy
For his part, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Ireland was "an excellent example that you can make it with discipline, with hard work and that you can work your way out of this debt crisis."

I assume this statement was pointed at Greece and Spain, even though their situations are all different including their culture. Austerity and banking reform is a must but one shoe does not fit all.Hard work and discipline is a "work ethic", which is not universally practiced or accepted by all member states.
19:24 October 26, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Thank you Ireland for being good little puppets. Here is a Jim'll fix it badge and your wish to meet Guido arranged.
20:04 October 26, 2012 by lgjhere
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:07 October 26, 2012 by Englishted
One more point to add to my earlier comment ,if as they say it is doing so well ,why are so many young people leaving just like in the past ?.
23:06 October 26, 2012 by lordkorner
Well I'm not living there so I can't be sure of what is going on in the little green Island. I am aware however that despite all the hardship that has befallen the people there ,they have knuckled down and got on with it. I have heard no reports of Riots or unrest on the streets of Dublin,unlike Athens and Madrid.
08:53 October 27, 2012 by Englishted
@ lordkorner

Is that a good or bad thing?

Docile enough to take anything in the hope you can remain in the E.U. .
13:43 October 27, 2012 by Navigator_B
The reality is that Ireland is an economic disaster zone with with huge numbers emigrating and those who remain burdened with debts that are simply unsustainable. 

It's not just the huge personal debts (like mortgages on negative equity properties) that are getting harder and harder to pay off because of tax rises. There's also the debts that were run up by private banks and and speculators that the taxpayers are now forced to pay off with those same tax rises as well as with cutbacks in public spending. 
11:43 October 28, 2012 by monicker
I am living in Ireland and I am working. The perception of the EU in Ireland is very negative. There are problems down the line which have yet to flare up. The main problem is that majority of homeowners cannot afford their mortgages. Furthermore, the unemployment is relatively low because of emigration and the unemployed entering full time education. The two biggest gripes are that all countries do not have equal say in Europe. Germany dictates to everyone and the Irish taxpayer are paying international investors for failed investments in banks that are being winded down. These investors include German and French banks, as they do in Greece.
19:37 October 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Exactly as it is monicker. The only problem with the Irish is they are not causing enough trouble as the Greeks are. They should be shouting foul play from the top of the Spire in Dublin after what their own government and the German government has imposed on them. The suffering is widespread and all to keep the top 1% afloat in a sea of champagne.
09:04 October 29, 2012 by strahlungsamt
Of course Ireland is doing the right thing. It's where German companies go to avoid paying German corporate tax. Meanwhile, social benefits, schools, hospitals and public services of all kinds are being cut left, right and center and the young population is emigrating to Australia.

Ayn Rand would be proud of the Irish. Collins and DeValera are turning in their graves.
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