German Media Lashes Ceaseless Greek Bailouts



A new bailout deal for Greece approved by Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is being celebrated by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as a triumph, but German media accused its government of lying over the real costs and said much of the growing Greek debt would be written off, passing the costs on to taxpayers in the other 16 countries of the Eurozone.

After three tries, the deal was finally agreed to this week that sets the stage for Greece to get $56.7 billion in a series of overdue loans over the next few months as part of a second bailout of $172 billion. The country had been surviving on a first series of $152 billion in rescue loans.

But the agreement requires the approval of Parliaments in Eurozone countries and The Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s Parliament, is expected to vote later this week on the package of measures that aim to cut Greek debt to 124 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020.

The Bundestag’s approval is not in doubt but disenchantment is growing in the German media over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constant backing of more bailouts for Greece, although she has continued to insist on harsh austerity measures at the same time. She faces new elections next year and critics said she has deliberately delayed other costs to Germany until then.

“The never-ending story,” quipped Germany’s best-selling Bild of the latest Greek rescue, depicting Merkel, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and other top officials as characters from the cult fantasy film of the same name.

In a commentary, Bild’s Hugo Mueller-Vogg reached for a medical metaphor to restate the paper’s long-standing opposition to euro zone bailouts it says German taxpayers cannot afford. “The team of European doctors around the patient’s bed justify the continually rising costs of the treatment with the hope that at some point the expensive medicines will prove effective,” he wrote, adding that none of the doctors will admit that the costs of saving Greece will be exorbitant.

The business daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the measures agreed for Greece, which include cutting interest rates and extending debt maturity dates, already amounted to a “haircut” for creditor nations holding Greek debt. “After these crisis negotiations Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble can no longer maintain that saving the euro costs no money,” wrote Holger Steltzner in the paper. “(The deal) cannot be described (as a haircut) so that the finance ministers of Germany, Finland and the Netherlands do not lose face,” he said, referring to key creditor nations who require their parliaments to approve the package.

“Greece is saved – yet again,” sighed business daily Handelsblatt. London-based German academic Gunnar Beck, in a guest column for Handelsblatt online, said Germany was “tied to a corpse” and said it would be better to cut itself loose despite the benefits the common currency bring for German exporters. Other newspapers said the special treatment doled out to Greece was unfair on countries such as Ireland and Portugal that have made big sacrifices to get their public finances in order.