No tears lost for Angela Merkel as Greeks revisit era of resigning Chancellor
When Angela Merkel was questioned during a discussion about the most difficult times in her chancellery, she recalled the Greek debt crisis.
At the time, she had “expected so much” from the people of Greece, she said. The Greek media mocked this reminiscence with irony. “This is not forgiveness,” commented a moderator on Skai television.
Angela Merkel and the Greeks: It’s hard to imagine a more strained relationship. Most Greeks will not shed a tear over the outgoing chancellor who leaves politics after the September 26 elections. They see it as the driving force behind the “German savings diktat” during the public debt crisis.
In 2010, the EU and the International Monetary Fund set up first aid for Greece. He imposed strict conditions. “It must hurt,” Merkel said at the time, recalls then Socialist PASOK Prime Minister George Papandreou.
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Dangerous and evil Merkel
The radical left opposition politician SYRIZA and later Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Merkel at the time of wanting to create a “social holocaust” in Greece. He demonized Merkel as “Europe’s most dangerous politician”.
“I was described as the evil woman, it was difficult,” Merkel remembers now.
The German Chancellor was then one of the most unpopular foreign politicians of the Greeks. At the height of the crisis, 85% of those polled had a negative opinion of the German leader, although since then her image has improved somewhat.
Many Greek men and women now know that it was Merkel who kept Greece in the euro, in opposition to the Grexit plans of her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. In retrospect, Merkel also receives praise in Greece for her refugee policy. From a Greek perspective, the flip side of German refugee policy is what many see as Markel’s aspiration for Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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Angelos Athanasopoulos, political leader at At Vima newspaper, comments that Merkel is giving “exaggerated support” to Erdogan for fear of a new refugee crisis. He also sees Merkel giving the impression that in the Eastern Mediterranean she “does more to gain Turkish approval” than to support the rights of EU member Greece.
It is certainly true that no other foreign politician has influenced Greece’s course as much in the past decade as Merkel. More decisions were taken in the Chancellery in Berlin than in Athens on questions of the fate of Greece such as Grexit or the bankruptcy of the state.
In the future, too, many Greeks will have mixed feelings about Germany, regardless of Merkel’s successor. As vacationers, Germans are welcome, especially since they have remained loyal during the pandemic. But politically, most Greeks feel misunderstood by Germany.
Written by a Neos Kosmos reader from Germany.