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.
(Page 2 of 2)
Merkel does have the support of a majority of her voters, though. Fifty-seven percent of Germans believe the introduction of eurobonds will not solve the eurocrisis, but only lead to higher interest rates.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Within this debate about ways out of the crisis, Germany finds itself in an unusual and unexpected position: Having tried to tread carefully on the diplomatic floor ever since the days of World War II, it is now accused of not throwing its weight about sufficiently.
“I am less worried about Germany’s power – I am starting to worry about Germany’s inactivity,” said Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski during a speech in Berlin earlier this week. “I demand of Germany that you help [the eurozone] survive and prosper. You may not fail to lead. Not dominate, but lead in reform.”
Salaries are not being slashed, or jobs cut
Ordinary Germans have yet to experience the eurocrisis firsthand. Unlike Greeks or Spaniards, they have not seen their salaries slashed or their jobs cut, so Germany’s attitude towards the European project is still mainly positive. A recent survey by pollsters Infratest found that a majority of 60 percent of Germans support further financial aid to ailing economies in southern Europe – as long as they reform according to German ideas of how a sound economy should be run.
They do miss the fact that – in part at least – the secret of German economic success is the also the explanation for the misfortunes of its southern partners. That’s according to German economist Rudolf Hickel: “The introduction of the euro has earned Germany a huge surplus and created an export imbalance in the eurozone that is untenable within a currency union.”
So it is in Germany’s best interest to keep the eurozone intact. German exports have soared since the introduction of the euro. KfW, a government-owned investment bank, estimates that within the past two years, alone Germany’s membership in the eurozone has resulted in profits of up to €60 billion (about $80.3 billion).
What is perplexing Germans is the resentment coming from its European partners. “I’ve seen pictures of Greek protesters,” says Harald Werner, a newspaper vendor on Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse. “They had posters with Chancellor Merkel in Nazi uniform. What’s that supposed to say, when its German money that pays teachers and policemen in Athens?”
RECOMMENDED: Merkel takes a hard line
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.