Merkel in Greece

Angela Merkel?s visit to Athens comes too late, like rock bands coming to Greece long after their peak. It will be hard to convince people her belated visit is in solidarity with the beaten periphery, after a good three years of whipping and bad mouthing anything Greek.

A big segment of the Greek public sees Merkel as the austerity-demanding paymaster that personally destroyed their lives. And thousands of lives have been destroyed, millions are depressed – either by the creditors’ poor planning of the bailout programs, or by their cruel implementation by Greek politicians. It is the same segment of the population in Germany that reads Bild, and believes that Greeks are single-handedly responsible for the euro mess. These people feel strongly and will do anything to be heard and seen.

There is a silent majority that wants to believe that this is the beginning of political initiatives to overcome the eurozone dead-end, that the visit brings disbursement of the next bailout tranche one step closer, and will help thaw the frozen market. They hope they don’t see distraction, fanatics or somebody dying. But amidst all the polarised misery and the rising extremes, they feel more and more lonely or irrelevant.

This last category also harbors the cynical approach. That this visit has the same real purpose as rekindling the grand discussion about a common EU budget, i.e. that it will cover up the political failure to produce the main deliverables in the light of the upcoming Council: a Greek Debt Sustainability Analysis, full Spanish Data and stated intention to opt for a rescue, and a clear-cut decision on both, as promised. They also see that it is a bold pre-election manoeuvre by Mrs Merkel.

Today there will be teargas and hooligans trashing things, as always. The police seem more operationally effective and ruthless recently. I don?t see disruption in the traditional sense but I also don?t see the reason for this visit, if it is to just tease all this anger to the surface – unless there will be a breakthrough that we cannot envision at the moment.

[Kathimerini English Edition]

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