Last week, Angela Merkel visited Greece in a show of friendship to assure Greeks that Germany isn’t as hard-hearted as they think. This week, Greece got a different message when Eurozone finance ministers announced they are giving Greece until October 18—ten days—to implement austerity measures. The latest collection of cuts is a prerequisite for a 31.5 billion-euro bailout that has been delayed since June.The EU Observer has the story:
“We stressed that before the next disbursement Greece clearly and credibly should demonstrate its commitment to fully implement the programme . . . by the 18 October at the latest,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the eurozone finance ministers, on Monday (8 October).He noted that most of the 89 “prior actions”—a list of budget cuts, privatisations, labour market and tax reforms agreed in March—had been agreed upon within the three-party coalition in Athens, but that no money could flow before everything is implemented.
Merkel’s visit led some to think that Germany and Europe might advocate for a softer approach with its troubled neighbor. But as today’s announcement makes plain, nothing has changed. German taxpayers don’t want their money sent to the Greeks; German officials don’t want to admit how much their own negligence and the cluelessness of their (often government-linked) banks contributed to the problem; the Greeks want the benefits of the euro without willing the changes necessary to make the currency union work.So far, Europe’s “brilliant” series of “solutions” to the massive and entirely self-inflicted consequences of its poorly conceived monetary union has revived the Nazis in Greece and threatens to break up Spain. One can only wonder what marvels of statesmanship European cleverness will produce in the months ahead — and what wonderful results they will produce in the real world.