Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA
On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece.

“There can be differences in the measures a government takes,” Merkel said in the Finnish capital.

But she insisted that "the overall picture has to fit" – meaning the reforms must be capable of putting the Greek economy and government finances back on a course towards stability – as Greece has obliged itself to do.

The Eurogroup could only decide on whether to open up more funds to avoid a Greek bankruptcy if the “Troika” of three creditor institutions – the European Central Bank (ECB), European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – approved the reform package, Merkel said.

Greece and the Troika have been discussing a new set of proposals since Friday, which would see the troubled government sell off €1.5 billion of state-owned assets and reduce early pension schemes.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also said that a scheme to simplify payment of back taxes by former evaders had brought in €100 million to state coffers within a week.

Since meeting with Tsipras last Monday, Merkel has become one of the more conciliatory voices in the German government, as both Athens and Berlin seek to cool rhetoric.

But the Finance Ministry, under schoolmasterly Wolfgang Schäuble, was less inclined to be understanding.

“The ball is and remains in the Greek side's court,” ministry spokesman Martin Jäger said on Monday, adding that no official and comprehensive reform list had yet been put forward.

Division in Merkel's ranks

Meanwhile Peter Gauweiler, the deputy head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) has resigned from his position in the party and given up his seat in the Bundestag (German parliament), citing his objection to the government's financial support for Greece.

“Anyone who voted for Peter Gauweiler as deputy head of the CSU knew exactly what position they were voting for on the Euro and the Greek rescue package,” read a statement from his Berlin office, released on Tuesday.

The statement went on to say that it was “against his understanding of the role of an MP” to vote against one's consistence, as had been demanded from him by the CSU party hierarchy.

Gauweiler is a long-time critic of Germany's stance on the Euro and Greek bailout deals. At the beginning of March he voted against the extension of a financial aid package for Greece.

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