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Germans ask: Why doesn't eurozone like us?

Images of Greek protesters waving signs of German Chancellor Merkel in Nazi uniform have troubled Germans. Many in struggling eurozone countries resent Merkel's hard line.

By Correspondent / December 4, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference at the government guest house Schloss Meseberg, about 44 miles north of Berlin, November 30. With images circulating of Chancellor Merkel in a Nazi uniform Germans are asking why other eurozone countries resent their hard line.

Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

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Berlin

Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrat Party, is not one to mince his words.

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“Suddenly the whole of Europe speaks German,” he declared in front of jubilant delegates at a party conference recently. German not in language, he added, but in terms of economic policies to lead the continent out of the sovereign debt crisis which has held Europe in its grip for almost two years now, and is threatening to infect the whole globe.

 If Mr. Kauder had been hoping for applause beyond the conference hall, he was disappointed. Europe is far from being a united bloc following German example, and particularly Britain took exception – “A controversial claim” read a headline in the “Daily Mail.” A few days later, Chancellor Merkel and the British Prime Minister David Cameron sought to give an impression of unity at a meeting in Berlin. But the incident was just another illustration of a rift within Europe.

“The markets have yet to be convinced by any of the measures taken to overcome the eurozone debt crisis,” says Ferdinand Fichtner from the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.  “It is time to get out a bigger gun – and it is time Germany accepts that.”

There is disagreement between Germany – in concert with some of the more well-off countries in the north like Finland and The Netherlands – and most of its eurozone partners about the appropriate measures to fight the debt crisis, with Chancellor Merkel seeing herself increasingly isolated on questions like the creation of eurobonds or the role of the European Central Bank (ECB).

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