Thursday, October 11, 2012

Merkel's visit to Greece

Klaus Stuttmann has some great cartoons about German Chancellor Angela "Frau Fritz" Merkel. Including the Frau Fritz cartoon itself, my favorite so far.

In this one from 10/10/2012, he depicts Frau Fritz' austerity message to Greece on her visit this week. The caption says, "It was true pity ..." Frau Fritz' herself is saying, "I'm really very, very, very terribly sorry, but we're still aren't completely done!"

But Greek cartoonist Yannis Ioannou has the most consistently inspired cartoons on Angie and Greece that I've seen. This one from 09/30/2012 is one of his Gulag series, showing Angie as the commandant of a concentration camp for the Greeks with her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as rolling around in a tiny tank:

George Gilson reports on Merkel's visit to Athens, Merkel offers sympathy, but little relief Athens News 10/09/2012:

In what was essentially a pep talk for the government and the Greek public, Merkel declared that she is cognisant of the difficulties the Greek people are experiencing and that Greece has already tread a significant part of the road of fiscal adjustment.

“It is worth Greece’s while to continue, because if it does not, the situation will be even tougher in the future,” she said.

Receiving the chancellor after her talks with Samaras, President Karolos Papoulias stressed that the public has reached its limit with the unprecedented austerity of the last two-and-a-half years.

“The Greek people are experiencing trying hours and has nearly exhausted its limits of endurance,” Papoulias said.

“We must think of measures that can provide hope – especially measures to spur growth and combat youth unemployment, which is higher even than Spain,” he added.

But if the government expected assurances that Greece will remain permanently in the eurozone or that the next 31bn loan tranche will be disbursed any time soon, Merkel’s visit fell short of expectations.

Merkel said that it is her “hope and wish” that Greece remains in the euro, and that the next loan tranche is contingent on the troika’s upcoming report on the Greek economy.
The German ZDF channel reports (in German) on Angie's visit, Merkel in Griechenland: Ehre und Protest 10/10/2012:

The video shows German Left Party leader Bernd Riexinger marching in protest against Merkel together with Greek opposition Syriza Party leader Alexis Tsipras. Riexinger's participation seems to have been well received by the Greek demonstrators. Angie's, of course, not so much.

Not surprisingly, Riexinger's visit drew some bitter criticism from Merkel's CDU/CSU/FDP coalition. (Lenz Jacobsen, Griechenland-Besuch: Grenzenloser Streit ist bitter nötig Zeit Online 10.10.2012) Jacobsen's column highlights what a nationalist viewpoint some of Merkel's coalition is taking in the euro crisis.

Nick Malkoutzis reports for Bloomberg Businessweek, Merkel in Greece: Smart Diplomacy or Wishful Thinking? 10/09/2012:

A five-year recession, unemployment that is nearing 25 percent, faltering banks that have yet to be recapitalized, a lack of liquidity, and a public debt that refuses to come into line with the forecasts made by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—the troika that is managing the Greek bailout—have been features of the Greek crisis for some time.
Angie her toadies in the Greek government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras are spinning her visit as a sign of approval and support. Unfortunately, what they are supporting is destructive austerity policies.

This poll reported by Reuters gives an idea of how cluelessly the issue of Frau Fritz' policies against Greece are viewed in Germany, More Germans want Greece in euro zone than out, poll shows 10/11/2012.

It does appear that Merkel and IMF head Christine Lagarde are ready to give Greece a break on the timeline to fulfill the assigned austerity program. (Krise in Griechenland: Nachdruck und Partnerschaft FAZ 11.10.2012) Pressure from the White House to avoid a blowup in the eurozone prior to November's Presidential election probably helped in that regard. But it's not a solution, just a further postponement of coming to grips with the problem.

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