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Mrs. Merkel visits Greece, only three years too late…

October 8, 2012

Published in ‘New Europe’ online

merkel_visits_greece2Tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is coming to Athens, for a six-hour official visit. In spite of the political controversy stirred, the coming of the highest rank German official is without doubt a major event for Greece.

Not for any of the reasons officially stated though. Neither is ‘sending a message to the rest of Europe’ or any deeper meaning to be found in this visit.

It’s the first time in three years that a head of a European state will be visiting Greece! Yes, you read correctly, since autumn 2009, when Greece’s problems started, practically no other European leader cared to visit the country, preferring to meet the successive Greek prime ministers in Brussels, or in other EU capitals, as if it were to show Greeks that they are in need, so ‘they’ had to come asking for help. Greece hadn’t been imposed such an ‘embargo’ on official visits since the time of military dictatorship…

Not that Greek officials didn’t have their share of responsibility in making their European counterparts distrustful of their wil to carry out painful structural changes in the country. But for the Greek people, this total absence has left a feeling of bitterness, confirming the views of most eurosceptics, that ‘European solidarity’ was an empty word.

Now, concretely, what is this visit going to signal? Mainly, a public support to Greek prime minister Andonis Samaras’ government. Strange as, when in the opposition, Mr. Samaras fiercely fought the so-called ‘Memorandums’ imposed by the troika partners (the EU, ECB, and the IMF), and the austerity measures contained in them. However, once in office, Mr. Samaras made a complete U-turn, and now fully supports the EU-imposed policies, leaving a vague promise of ‘re-negotiating’ the Memorandums for the future. If this attitude deserves encouragement, then one understands why Mrs. Merkel is coming to support him. However, most of the opposition, and with it a broad part of the Greeks, are preparing for street protests against Mrs. Merkel coming, while most of them view Mr. Samaras’ positive stance as a sign of subordination to the strong EU countries.

In other words, the whole situation is fishy. Mr Samaras simply used an anti-austerity rhetoric, just to seize power in the same way as his socialist counterpart in France, Mr. Hollande did, and has now switched sides to please the strong EU partners. As for Mrs. Merkel, who played hard with the Greeks, she equally switched sides as soon as she understood that it wouldn’t be possible to oust them from the Euro, and is now supporting Mr. Samaras as a ‘lesser evil’… Although this cannot yet be expressed in a politically appropriate way, both leaders’ hypocrisy is too well understood by the people of their respective countries.


From → Views & Opinions

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