Merkel stands increasingly alone in opposing Greek eurozone exit
Germany's Chancellor Merkel is sticking to her position that Greece must stay – and that its exit could have unforeseen negative consequences. But the ranks of those who disagree are growing.
After three years of continuous attempts to keep the insolvent Greek state within the eurozone, European Union politicians are showing increasing acceptance of an exit. But while there is now an open debate about Greece leaving the common currency, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is sticking to her mantra that Athens should stay – a position that fewer and fewer of her colleagues share.Skip to next paragraph
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“We want Greece to be part of the euro,” Mrs. Merkel told journalists after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras last week in Berlin. “Greece has to meet a number of expectations, but if it does, it can also expect help from us.”
Those words describe Merkel’s dilemma. Mr. Samaras asked for more time to implement conditions linked to financial help from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The highly indebted Greek economy is being kept afloat by two international bailout packages worth €240 billion ($300 billion), in return for which Athens has promised to cut spending and reform its ineffective public sector. But unless Samaras has concrete results to show, Merkel cannot promise any more help without meeting stiff resistance in parliament.
What has emerged is a delicate balancing act: While she sent the Greek prime minister home emptyhanded, Merkel has also shown increasing support for intervention from such European institutions as the ECB, thus possibly heading off the prospect of having to confront the unknown consequences of a Greek exit.
Merkel's colleagues, however, have not minced words about their distaste for further help for Greece. “More time [to meet eurozone demands] usually means more money. That’s not an option right now,” said Wolfgang Schäuble, German Finance Minister and member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).