“We didn’t want to join the Eurozone and we did everything to avoid it. Greece, on the other hand, did everything to get in”.
“We had a pretty high standard of living before we joined the Eurozone. Greece, on the other hand, achieved its standard of living after joining the Eurozone”.
“We were essentially blackmailed into joining the Eurozone (the price for German unification). Since we couldn’t resist, we made sure that our interest would be preserved contractually”.
“Despite all of that; despite the fact that we had insisted from the start that the ECB would pursue monetary policies with the Euro like the Bundesbank had done with the Deutsche Mark; despite the fact that we had insisted on a no bail-out clause; despite many other things – we now find ourselves in a situation where we have to do exactly what we had been contractually guaranteed we would never have to to”.
“It looks like we don’t even have a say any more what we can do. It looks like the majority needs money; the majority thinks we have money; and the majority decides to take it from us. But we have to borrow that money!”
“While all of this happens, we are being blamed for being more or less re-incarnations of the Nazis”.
“We hear such ridiculous claims that our standard of living is primarily due to the fact that we could exploit the poor Greeks; that we are now driving Greeks into poverty and suicides”.
I could go on.
As an Austrian, I have my own feelings about our neighbors to the North. Ever since the Prussian upstart Bismarck told the God-sent Habsburgs that they would not be part of the Unified Germany (even though the Habsburgs had been Holy Roman Emperors of German Nations for half of the Empire’s existence), there has been a slight, shall we say, antipathy on the part of Austrians against Germans. We don’t fight wars any more but once every 50 years or so, Austria gets to beat Germany in soccer and whenever that happens (like the 3rd goal of Cordoba in 1978 which kicked Germany out of the World Cup tournament), well, then Austrians experience moments of ecstasy.
Despite all of that, I think the Germans are being given the raw end of the stick (and they keep taking it!). It’s like in an interpersonal relationship where you know your partner has one very soft point and you take advantage of that soft point and rub it in all the time to achieve your goals.
The soft point of today’s Germans is the country’s history. We are still seeing a country whose President once got clobbered (by Germans!) after he said that he was “proud of Germany”. Why? Because it obviously was unfit for the President of such a country to be proud of it. When it comes to loving one’s country, another President felt it necessary to clarify that he loved his wife but he didn’t have to love his country. And yet another President felt it necessary to state that “Islam is part of Germany” just to make sure that he wouldn’t make Germany subject to critique that it was anti-Islam. Where he got the idea from that Islam is part of any Judeo-Christian heritage, that he never clarified.
And now the German “guilt” is really being played by just about everyone who is after the perceived cash of Germany (which cash Germany has to borrow…). Particularly in Greece, the early part of the 1940s is being replayed with a vengeance. Sometimes I wonder how Greeks might feel if others replayed the latter part of the 1940s with the same vengeance. Perhaps asking questions like “What exactly happened at Meligala?” or “What was the Paidomazoma all about?”
Taking advantage of someone’s soft point works from time to time and sometimes. Making a strategy out of it is never a good idea and it may eventually provoke undesirable reaction from the one who can no longer take the pain from his soft point. It might be worthwhile to read the following analysis by Dirk Schumacher, Senior European Economist of Goldman Sachs:
“At the core of the reluctance of Germany to agree to some form of debt mutualization is the fear that this will lead to lesser efforts or even an abandonment of the reform course. Attaching conditions to debt mutualization cannot overcome this problem since – as this crisis has shown – sovereign countries cannot be forced to stick to past agreements if the population turns against them. Thus, the reluctance of Germany to “sign up” at this point makes sense: writing a blank check without having the necessary controls in place to ensure that it is used appropriately is only going to create problems down the road. Despite these obstacles, there is a strong consensus in the political class that a break up of EMU would have an immensely negative impact on Germany. But this does not mean that Germany will try to save the Euro at any cost.”