The World from Berlin: 'Acropolis Adieu, You've Got to Go!'
New speculation of a Greek exit from the euro zone hit financial markets on Monday after the IMF and major creditors including Germany were reported to be intent on refusing further aid. German media commentators don't see how Greece can avoid quitting the euro -- and say Athens has mainly itself to blame.
The euro fell to its lowest level in over two years, reaching $1.2081 on Monday, due to market fears of a Greek euro exit and calls by Spanish regions for financial aid that triggered speculation Spain may have to seek a full bailout.
Reports that the International Monetary Fund, Germany and other major lenders are not prepared to extend fresh aid to Greece on top of the second bailout package of 130 billion ($157 billion) agreed to earlier this year have sparked new speculation that the country where the euro crisis erupted in 2010 may have to declare bankruptcy this autumn and quit the euro.
The Greek government has asked lenders to soften the terms of the bailout and give it more time to implement reforms and budget cuts demanded of it. But that would probably require the injection of even more aid to Greece, which Germany and the IMF are reportedly no longer prepared to do.
German media commentators say a Greek bankruptcy is looking more likely and that despite all the mistakes made in Europe's crisis management over the last two years, Greece itself is to blame for its problems.
Mass circulation Bild writes:
"At last someone is speaking the truth: The International Monetary Fund is threatening to pull the plug. No new loans, no new guarantees. Without fresh money Greece will be bankrupt and will have to try to make a fresh start without the euro. At last! This signal was overdue. Greece is neither able nor willing to solve its problems. The political class isn't daring to tell the rich to pay up. The administration isn't in a position to privatize unprofitable state enterprises, the tax administration is inefficient and corrupt. In such a situation, every additional euro wouldn't be a help but an additional premium for inability and a lack of will.
"The IMF is slamming on the emergency brake. That makes it easier for donor nations like Germany and the whole EU to also say: Acropolis adieu, you've got to go!"
Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"In order to plug the new hole in the Greek restructuring program, the Greeks will either have to save more or the Europeans will have to provide billions more euros. As both seem to be out of the question, the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will probably have to declare itself bankrupt in September.
"There is no script for such a state bankruptcy within the euro zone, just as there is no script for the entire management of the crisis. The only thing that's clear is that there is no judicial means and hardly any political means to simply throw the Greeks out of the currency union. The European Central Bank alone would have the indirect possibility of shutting off financing to Athens and thereby practically forcing Samaras to leave the euro zone.
"Such a step would entail incalculable risks for the Greek government, bigger risks than the remaining euro countries would face. But it will probably have to embark on this adventure. Maybe the crisis managers led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel are partly to blame, but one shouldn't confuse cause and effect: the main blame lies with the Greeks themselves. "
Business daily Handelsblatt writes:
"In truth, the German government's choice isn't between continuing its reform policy and the demise of the euro. Its only choice is between different routes towards completing monetary union. The critics of the euro rescue measures basically know that, which is why they become so tight-lipped when it comes to showing workable alternatives.
"The government is making it easy for them because it has evaded an honest debate about what the paths out of the euro crisis are, what they could cost and what it would cost to leave the euro. It should explain to citizens that solidarity with our euro partners is necessary but that this solidarity gives us a chance to create a globally competitive Europe than in large measure corresponds with German visions."
-- David Crossland
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