May 3rd, 2010
03:43 PM GMT
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Berlin, Germany - Opinion polls in Germany show most people there don’t want their country to give bailout money to Greece. But people we spoke to in Berlin seemed to have a more realistic view.

Did think she Germany should help Greece, I asked a young woman. "No," was her short and forceful answer.

Did she think her government would help Greece, I then asked. "Yes," she said just as forcefully.

When asked why, she simply said: "Because we have to."

That seems to be the feeling among many Germans. They don’t want their government to back billions of dollars in loans to Greece, but they know there is no other choice.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel should find some comfort in opinions like the one above. With an important May 9election scheduled in Germany's most populated state, Northrhein-Westfalia, political rivals and other observers have accused Merkel of trying to sit it out and postpone a decision on the Greek aid package until after the vote.

Merkel herself denies this. And if it was her intention to wait it out, it backfired, bringing her even more criticism both in Germany and abroad.

"Aid to Greece cannot be automatic," Merkel said shortly after Athens announced it had asked the EU and the IMF to set its bailout in motion last week. Some experts believe the perceived reluctance of the German government further weakened Greece and also possibly affected the credit ratings of Spain and Portugal, both of which were downgraded by the agency Standard and Poor's.

The situation became so dramatic that the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, visited Berlin last Wednesday to urge Merkel and her government to get a move on.

"We must understand that time is of the essence," Strauss-Kahn said, and noted that the stability of the entire euro zone was in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the opposition Social Democrats and Green party accused the Merkel government of dragging its feet and putting short term political concerns ahead of Europe’s and Germany’s fundamental interest of keeping the euro alive and stable.

Looking at the situation now it appears as though Merkel’s gamble didn’t pay off. Polls in Northrhein-Westfalia point to massive losses of the governing coalition of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Liberal Democratic party, although some believe there are other reasons as well, as the Christian Democratic governor of the state faces allegations of campaign finance irregularities.

In a press conference in Berlin on Monday, Merkel justified her government's handling of the situation, saying that, "giving Greece a blank check," would have made the situation even worse.

In the end the voters will judge her handling of the crisis, possibly as early as May 9.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Alexis20

    I think our president does her best and we support her..these r tough times and there is no easy solution. I would also like to ask u not to emphasize the word "forcefully' so much because u know we are in a bad situation and can NOT be expected to be happy about giving OUR money to some people who already own too much to everyone and there are great chances that they won't be able to pay us least during this life time -.-

    May 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Ann Graham Walker

    Given that there have been issues in Greece with corrupt government and with the way money flows through hands in unaccountable ways, does anyone know what safeguards will be in place to make sure this bail-out money is used responsibly and transparently?

    May 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  3. usa

    Death to America the blood eater

    May 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  4. Klaus Rudolph

    The aggressive reactions of some greece people agaist the German nation because of beeing critical to pay, show that peace in Europe is not a matter of cause. There are two reasons to pay to greece and other weak countries: first it guaranties peace and second the working power of all the European people is supported. This will soon lead back to a reliable Euro. The Germans will "pay" for it – the most. It is still the price for the reunion: a cushioned economy of Germany.

    May 3, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Brian Clark

    At Least Angela Merckel has the long term profound understanding of what constitutes real membership of The European Union ...............where as the English Tories are totally against the European ethic !! ............and for the moment they keep Scotland out of Europe and our welcoming friends !!

    Go Angela least you have principles !!

    May 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  6. kaijoe

    the dream of a united Europe with one currency has been failed for a long time but leaders like Merkel and her predecessors have been wanting it for any prize .Germany "can" not be allowed to be a super power like the USA or Russia or China because of its past. The only way is the way of a powerful Europe. But it has never been powerful since the founders and their successors took all those countries like Greece and later Slovakia and .....without any realistic conditions into their circle and then made up a currency for
    1999 Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland
    2001 Greece
    2002 Introduction of euro banknotes and coins
    2007 Slovenia
    2008 Cyprus, Malta
    2009 Slovakia.
    None of these countries has the same economical dynamic like the others. They are all different countries with economically different interests.The fate of Greece won't be the single one. We will experience the same fate for Portugal , Spain, Ireland and Italian as the next countries. Greece hasn't been saved and won't be saved so easily .

    May 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  7. German

    Greese has been living beyond their means by borrowing large from
    German, Frech and American banks, Most of the people in Greece do not paid taxes but they live large....The unions have large pensions that the country can not afford and the rich do not paid a dime in taxes,
    this a formula for disaster and in top of that they cook the books.....

    Now Germany, France and the USA have to lent money to Greece that tthey can not afford to repaid......does not make sense, let them go bankrup and leave the Eurozone and work this out......on their own!!!

    May 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  8. FeeFee

    The help for Greece is necessary, that's thruth, but there have been way to few efforts of Greece to help themselves. Greece doesn't make anough reforms, they want to live the life for credit and money of other countries. This is all over Europe like this. I live in Poland, and the polish governments, as well as governments of polish cities have taken to many loans, the debts rise every day like crazy. If it goes on like this we will all follow Greece, and Germany cannot help everyone, they are not that rich. The european governments should spend as much as they have and not many times more. After all the debts have to be paid back one day, just like in a home budget – if you don't pay for your car, house etc. you will loose the house or car. Greece should be helped for the good of EU, but Greece should feel very painful consequences of their bad administration. That should apply to all countries who receive international help.

    May 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  9. former german citizen

    I do not think that Germany should have bailed out Greece. By always coming to the rescue, what has Greece learned? Just as the Americans should not have bailed out their Banks. they haven't learned a thing, other then being more greedy. Sometimes a hard fall is actually good in the long run.

    May 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  10. BELL

    The problem with the south and east part of europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania) is that they have learned to live with double bookkeeping.

    This practice is based on a deep rooted tradition (enemies of the State) and this attitude is not compatible with the idea of a modern state.

    They all have joined the EU, and now with the ongoing economic recession, one after the other may start to tumble.

    All that will not, proof that they have been able to adjust their former economy. Italy seems pretty stable, but it is the only one.

    May 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  11. fraenkl henry

    For what reason the EU – tries to bail out Greece? It wont Help the EU, if they do so – soon the German voters will want to leave the EU before they pay for dolce vita to Greek multi millinaires. Why does Greece not implement a wealth tax on the rich ? In all my life I have never seen so much weath as in Greece. Wasnt one of the richest men married to the first lady of the US? Are these reporters blind? Dont they see that they pull a long one on the working class again. Tell use a – make belive story -again? I wonder what kind of skills are required to become a correspondent, nowadays?

    May 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  12. David Ahuchaogu

    Greece deserves a bailout by her partners in the union, but beyond this, she should be helped/encouraged to engage in reforms that will sustain and drive her economy without necessarily depending on other nations for survival.

    May 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  13. Labros_S

    Things are nor as simple as they appear in the German (and other countries') press. It is time for Europe and the world to investigate actions of speculators and rating agencies, that took a manageable local crisis and made it an international drama.

    In December 2009, already two months into the "Greek crisis", the country could still borrow from the markets at more favorable rates than the current "bailout" ! In simple words, there would be no talk of default, no drama, no tragedy.

    Why was all this soap opera orchestrated, that drove Greek bond interests so high, leading the country to the brink ? Remember, the trigger was the Dec2009 downgrades by Fitch and S&P, followed by about ...10,000 catastrophic articles (that keep coming).

    Neither Greek deficit and debt levels (hardly higher than those of other Western countries) nor "massaging" of statistics (a common practice in the EU, Greece simply being the worst offender) can justify this high-profile "tragedy".

    When so many major funds have bet on Greece's default, there are very strong players in that game, that largely affect what you read in the news daily.

    May 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  14. nespan

    damned if you do, damned if you don't...

    May 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  15. Jiri Glass

    Right from the start, the European community and the Euro were more of a Summernight dream and a Wishful thinking matter, than a feet on the ground post WW2 analysis on all possible consequences of actions nourished by dreamers and not trustworthy polititians from several countries . Who wanted to copy and to emulate the USA. But so proud of the implemented ´´open borders policy´´ and the no need for passports facility prevented them from seeing the forthcoming problems, simmerinng below the surface.
    The only voice, calling attention to the issue and who was and and still is strongly critisized , comes from Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech republic.,

    May 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  16. Strangewalk

    The American subprime crisis and associated financial enginnering seems in retrospect like a freight train purposely designed to crash. It's evident now that the EU experiment along with the Euro cannot possibly survive the tsunami that is just beginning. Quickly next in line will be the rest of the PIIGS and the Balkans, and Europe will revert to its age-old pattern of fragmentaion, nationalism and conflict. Also, China is aggressively following a path of guaranteeing future failure. The world is lost in new territory, but on a road with a very clear final destination.

    May 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  17. lisaweyn

    It is quite natural that politicians always under estimate the feelings of their follow countrymen.

    May 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  18. Mike

    The problem in giving money to Greece, means most other countries in the Euro Zone have to provide money as well. Countries like Slovakia, also have to donate, in order to save Greece. The problem is, the country itself would have to borrow money in order to donate the minimum amount.

    Not to mention, a poorer country helping a richer one. As I have read many comments on this subject, when a person borrows too much money and is unable to pay the bank back, someone will take their possessions to pay back the loan. If a country fails, why not do the same thing. Sure, the people may not like it, but it works.

    Giving money to an almost bankrupt country means, you may not necessarily see the money back.

    May 4, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  19. James

    @Strangewalk: The Euro will survive these stormy days. Actually the massive budget deficits of GB and especially USA a much more dangerous for economy than the deficit of relatively small countries like Greece. By the way the problems Portugal and Spain has are not as serious as the problems of Greece.

    May 4, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  20. MakisPavlidis

    Its the desaster of germany at ww2,the killings and destroying of many citys in Greece to pay back the money that was stolen from the Greek Banks..Time to pay back

    May 4, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  21. D. UK

    @Labros_S: And what did Greece do to fend off all these bad speculators and credit rating agencies? Let's see:
    - The prime minister went for advice to ...Hungary.
    - The deputy prime minister blamed it on the Germans for stealing the gold 70 years ago.
    - The prime minister asked the Europeans for "political support". People are still trying to understand what he meant.
    - Everybody else went on strike.
    Is this how you increase your credibility?

    May 4, 2010 at 1:07 am |
  22. Mark

    It will be just as tough to kick Greece out of the ECU now, but worth it in the long run. We will face this problem every year, and they will keep on lying and spending other peoples money. They have not been a contributing EU member, and as we can see, not a contributing member of the ECU. Maybe they should be kicked out both. The Euro is going to suffer anyway, fix the problem now.

    May 4, 2010 at 1:43 am |
  23. North-European Living in Spain

    BELL is right.
    But, is it not different for Berlusconia (former Italy).

    It is about double bookkeeping (, incorrect figures (, corruption and lack of real democracy.

    All these countries have (had) there dictators, and there ghosts, successors and issues are around every single day.

    The common believe is that everyone is to blame for the 'crisis' (the last days S&P specific here in Spain) besides themselves.

    There is and will not be any political and/or economical stability in Europe (or Spain). The only stable Europe and reliable Euro exists in the minds of some politicians with there own political agenda.

    And the rest of Europe is paying the (highest) price.

    For a summary of the current situation of Europe, silly but with a very serious tone:

    May 4, 2010 at 1:46 am |
  24. Krepse Haler

    When you have too much debt you have to sell some of your assets. How about an Island or two? Perhaps the Turks would like Cyprus? Why fight for something you can buy! Anybody interested in the Acropolis?

    May 4, 2010 at 3:17 am |
  25. Klus Rudolph

    @MakisPavlidis: Greece people should see that they are responsible, on their own and for the European community they joined. When German pop star Udo Jürgens sang "Griechischer Wein" in the 70s the selling of that wine, aside of all greece food products sold in Germany, is supposed to be so profitable for Greece that she should not hit on this nation. They have got more then their share. Mr. Pavlidis may call it dirty money ore reparation or whatever. The Germans payed and it seems they never stop – untill they drop? That would mean real trouble for Europe.

    May 4, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  26. Rob L

    Another bailout for the bankers. Another score for immorality. Letting the Greeks go bust would cause temporary pain for them and their lenders. Bailing them out insures that the corrupt conditions that caused the pain will continue.

    May 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  27. Shake

    What is currently unfolding is extremely unfortunate to all the countries involved and their residents. The residents of the EU should not now place nationalistic fervour ahead of what is good for the overall monetary union. No doubt, Greece needs to pay for its profligate behaviour but the procrastination over the past two months by other EU countries that are part of the Union has not helped either. Having taken the moral high road about no IMF help for a member of the Union, and having held out help for two months now, it is ungracious to crow about it and seek to eke out tougher terms on the EU lending than would otherwise have been available under an IMF program. Greece can no longer access capital markets for two years and being part of the Union, Greece does not have the independence of monetary policy to offset the difficulties in store for them under the severe austerity program. Perhaps the best way forward for the Greeks to is voluntarily exit the Union. The consequence of this is likely to be devastating for ordinary greek residents but would atleast help them keep their pride amidst needless bashing by other EU residents. The financial markets are testing the Union like never before and should their focus shift to the other weaker members of the Union, the Euro could well unravel under the markets onslaught of other sovereign debt.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  28. Smith in Oregon

    This sudden 1,000 point drop in a 30 minute free fall in America's Wall Street DOW stock exchange appears to be a Red Flag event deliberately called on by a high ranking Federal Treasury official.

    This created emergency appears to have been used to discern the origins, groups and organizations who are using 'short' options and 'short' trading supercomputer algorithms to currently destroy Greece's economy, the Euro and now has Portugal, Italy and Spain in its gun sights.

    What I find amazing is the utter greed of these groups and investment organizations. As billions lost millions of dollars around the world, these groups and investment organizations pocketed Trillions and bankrupted entire nations in the process. Now they have Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy in its gun sights as they further devalue the Euro weakening all of Europe in the process.

    Forced devaluation of a entire country's or nations currency by the insiders at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is nothing new. On behalf of Bush sr. Panama's currency went to worthless as Bush sr. hoped that would cause Panama's people to toss out Noriega. On behalf of Bush jr. N. Korea's currency went to worthless as Bush jr. hoped that would cause N. Korea to stop it's Nuclear ambitions.

    Is the IMF behind the destruction of Greece's economy and the Euro?

    I do not believe it is, however with each successful campaign these nefarious investment organizations wages and nations destroyed, they are rapidly becoming as powerful if not more powerful than the entire IMF around the world. Both Bush's appear to have used the IMF for their corrupt and unethical political ends in literally blackmailing nations into their desired political direction.

    The concern the International and American public should have is 'what if any political agenda does these powerful investment organizations and firms has on the world stage'? They are certainly as powerful as the IMF blackmailing a Nation down a specific political direction as the Bush Family values previously noted. BUT WILL THEY?

    I do agree with a portion of the growing anarchists movement in Greece in their global view of the illusion that is dissolving democracy:

    In a democracy, Money is King and rules the growth and direction of democracy, laws and its lawmakers.

    When a nations currency is NOT backed by a solid commodity such as Gold, Silver, Land Standards on a 1:1 basis then that currency is entirely artificially inflated and has no inherent worth behind it.

    AND as the illusion of a nation's currency value is exposed, the Democracy that Nations currency supports and props up is exposed as artificially propped up as well, ethereal and based on illusion.

    May 7, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  29. blue monkey

    Greece and Spain won't pay back. The only thing Germans can do is:
    REPOSES 170 Leopard 2AEX Battle Tanks from Greece, and 190 Leopard 2A6E Battle Tanks from Spain.
    U.S.A must REPOSES 170 F-16 Jet Fighters from Greece, … the rest is gone with the wind …forever …
    Greece must stop paying lucrative pensions with borrowed money, reform the free health care system, and cut down, 4 times the military budged.

    May 8, 2010 at 12:43 am |
  30. fraenkl henry

    If the German people would have been informed properly and would know that, with 80% dept. from GDP, Germans soon also belong to the Club of Junk countries – they would understand that it is a criminal act to put the well-being of the entire nation at stake, for an other country that from beginning plaid with Idea to enter the EU, to be bailed later. After it would have received the jackpot, it when will pullout and while rubbing its hands.

    May 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  31. kumar vkb

    Euro zone 1 trillion euro,who has this kind of money,or from where they will bring to set up this fund,as all Euro Zone countries are already in deficit,and europium countries will put extra pressure on it citizen ,it is again all political as it is beyond for ordinary citizen to understand the game,but sure some one is going to make bundel out of it but not ordinary people.

    May 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
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    May 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
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