In Athens, Angela Merkel hushes up her self-criticism

“Greco-German relations have been rather agitated, I would say”, admitted Angela Merkel during her final trip to Athens, as Chancellor, Friday, October 29. Half a word, she expressed regret, said she had “Awareness of the constraints and challenges the Greeks had faced” during the austerity cure intended, from 2009 to 2018, to consolidate the stability of the euro. But she also noted that the adjustment would have been less brutal if Greece had undertaken key reforms in times of prosperity and claimed to have done everything to keep the country in the euro area. In September, during a conference in Germany, Angela Merkel was more explicit in admitting that “The most difficult moment” of her mandate had been when she had “So much asked of Greece”.

For the daily left the Editors’ Journal (EfSyn), the Chancellor expressed “Compassion but without a word for the consequences of the austerity policies implemented in Greece under pressure from Germany”. A few months ago, this same newspaper said that “Merkel had failed in the ‘business of Europe'”, by imposing an excessive policy responsible for a rift within the European Union (EU) between North and South.

In power since 2005, the German Chancellor was not really known in Greece until after the debt crisis, four years later, when the newly elected Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou admitted a budget deficit three times higher than official estimates. Greek debt then reached 127% of GDP.

“One of the most hated women” in the country

The international markets reacted immediately, the rating agencies devaluing the rating of the Greek debt in speculative category. Then, in 2010, then German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, backed by Angela Merkel, demanded drastic budget cuts and tax increases from Athens in exchange for three international bailouts of more than 300 euros. Billions of Euro’s. Privatizations are then launched with a vengeance to replenish the state coffers, pensions are reduced, unemployment is exploding, drug shortages and a lack of staff affect hospitals, the minimum wage falls to just over 500 euros …

Read the decryption: The Greek crisis in nine austerity plans, three aid plans and one re-election

Angela Merkel quickly became “The iron lady”, “One of the most hated women” of the country as recalled, Thursday, the German tabloid image. At the height of the crisis, in 2012, the Chancellor was greeted in Greece by a large anti-austerity rally with Nazi swastikas and caricatures of her with a Hitler mustache. At the same time, German media portrayed the Greeks as lazy, and on the ” a “ of the magazine Focus, the Venus of Milos gave Greece a middle finger.

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In Athens, Angela Merkel hushes up her self-criticism