• Germany's news in English

Greece bailout passes with massive majority

AFP/The Local · 27 Feb 2015, 11:28

Published: 27 Feb 2015 08:28 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2015 11:28 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had earlier told MPs that he was not asking for a "change" to Greece's bailout programme, but an extension "to successfully bring it to an end".

He added that while there was flexibility in the programme, Greece could not make changes without the consent of its European partners.

And he said that many European countries had lower minimum wages and living standards than the Greeks.

"The Greeks should think about that when they call for solidarity," he said.

Taking flight into philosophy, Schäuble called on his colleagues to remember that Germany is "the land of Immanuel Kant".

"When we come to a reasoned decision, we should think: what would happen if everyone made this decision?"

Since Germany was better off than many other countries, it should bear some of the burden of solidarity, he said.

Almost all the speakers at the debate were in favour of extending support to Greece.

But the Left (Linke) and the Green party both accused Chancellor Angela Merkel's government of hobbling Greece's chance for economic recovery by insisting on painful austerity measures.

Between two stools

The speech served to illustrate the balancing act the German government is performing, standing as it does between the need to keep Europe and the single currency together and irritation with what it sees as unreasonable demands from the new Greek government.

Other European countries share Germany's tough attitude, but tough talk from Europe's effective paymaster has sparked bitter exchanges with the hard-left government of Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras since elections last month.

Schäuble urged fellow conservative deputies to back the bailout reprieve on Thursday despite his "disbelief" at renewed comments from his Athens counterpart.

Pressure from Greece's debt of €320 billion - equivalent to 175 percent of its annual economic output - is so severe that Tspiras wants to renegotiate repayment obligations during the four-month bailout extension clinched Tuesday after gruelling negotiations with creditors.

Public sick of bailouts

That disbelief is shared by the public, just 21 percent of whom agreed with the idea of continuing to help Greece in a poll this week.

"No more billions for the greedy Greeks!" demanded mass daily Bild on Thursday, printing a huge "Nein!" (No), which it urged readers to hold up for selfies, some of which it published on Friday.

Story continues below…

A contrary "Yes! Yes! Yes!" was the response in commentary on news site Spiegel Online.

"We need ... a loud 'Yes' to the euro, to Europe and to the legacy of Helmut Kohl," it said, referring to Germany's ex-chancellor, a driving force behind European enlargement and integration after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, which together with the eurozone states hold most of Greece's debts, have also expressed misgivings.

Merkel has said the extension is just a "starting point" and that Berlin is under "no illusions" about the challenges ahead.

Alexander Kritikos, research director at the German DIW economic institute, said Greeks had an "old habit" of focusing their anger just on Schäuble, but others such as Finland, the Netherlands and Baltic states also took a firm line.

SEE ALSO: BILD says 'NEIN' to Greek bailout extension

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd