As she has repeatedly – as he continues to follow her insistence on austerity measures in return for her country’s backing of critical rescue loans as part of a package from international lenders – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is doing a swell job trying to bring down a runaway debt and deficit.
Her praise was heaped a day before Samaras was due to visit her in Berlin on Nov. 15 to talk again about the 3 1/2-year running Greek drama and crushing economic crisis. Samaras, who opposed austerity while out of office, embraced it once he was elected and has continued to do as Merel has directed, leading critics to say he has ceded his country’s sovereignty to her and foreign banks.
“Greece has implemented changes over the past years which are absolutely remarkable,” Merkel was quoted as saying during a business conference in Berlin. “Who would have thought that Greece will post a primary budget surplus this year?” she added.
She didn’t mention that if Greece hits a primary surplus – not counting interest on debt, the cost of running cities and towns and state enterprises, some military expenditures and social security costs – that it could allow the government to try to stiff the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) with big losses as a previous administration did in 2011.
Merkel, however, has ruled out any idea of a debt cut, a so-called “haircut,” and told The Wall Street Journal that Germany, the biggest contributor to Greece’s bailout, will keep putting up money only as long as Samaras adheres to unrelenting austerity and to countries who cut their debt the way the Germans have advised.