Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras did not please German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He spoke indirectly but clearly. Even though they were standing right next to each other, at the press conference in Berlin, they both wore sullen faces. It was revealing.
I did what I had to do. I did what I promised, Samaras was saying. Now it’s your turn, what will you do for me?
“My country,” he said specifically “has achieved its targets earlier than planned. We had a primary surplus in 2013 and in 2014. We re-entered the market two years ahead of schedule …”
She, regarding the possibility and merits of a relaxation of the austerity policy or some kind of debt reduction, said not a word. Oh yes, she talked about “positive steps.” And she referred to the German tourists in Greece…
Then she repeated what we have heard before: reforms, structural changes, and privatization.
After some digs, she added: “Today we talked about the political work and the work of the Prime Minister and the developments in Greece (…) with respect to international agreements in close cooperation with its partners, and moving step by step in a better direction, towards a better future for Greece.”
I can see Alexis Tsipras,, head of the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), smiling.
Still, Samaras went on to note Greece’ s geopolitical importance, including its roles in providing energy security and as an island of stability in an “unstabilized “ region.
He spoke about youth unemployment. He talked about tax relief as 55 percent of the Greek population cannot pay their taxes.
“We need to provide tax relief in the area in order to achieve the objectives of fiscal surpluses and structural changes. I believe that under growth conditions we can achieve more” he told her.
Merkel knows all that. She has also heard it from the French President. And the Italian Prime Minister. And the Spanish, and Portuguese …
But the Germans do not sympathize with the weak. Rather, they condemn them for their failures.
It is their philosophy. Their way of life that made possible, for the second time, decades after the almost total destruction of its economy, Germany ‘s emergence as an economic superpower.
Can, however, the Europeans become like the Germans overnight? Can Europe change in accordance with the lifestyle of the Germans?
This is the weakness of the euro zone. The euro itself. It tries to balance the unequal.
That is why after all is said and done, either by design or error, the bonds that hold them together, “united,” will break. With a loud bang.