Greeks wave swastikas to greet Merkel 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
BERLIN - German newspapers attacked "ungrateful" Greeks for
the hostile public reception they gave Angela Merkel in Athens and some criticized the chancellor's generosity for promising they would stay in the euro
zone - a message welcomed in Greece.
Pictures of a small group of Greek
anti-austerity demonstrators dressed as Nazis, including one with a Hitler mustache waving a swastika, dominated German coverage of Merkel's first visit
to Athens since the sovereign debt crisis began three years ago.
does not deserve this!" protested the biggest selling Bild tabloid on its front
Merkel braved Tuesday's protests to reaffirm her commitment to
keeping debt-crippled Greece inside Europe's single currency, but offered Prime
Minister Antonis Samaras no concrete relief ahead of a report next month by the
"troika" of international creditors on his government's progress on savings
In stark contrast to the German reaction, Greek newspapers
hailed the visit as a show of support for the sacrifices of the Greek people and
the reform efforts.
"With her trip to Athens yesterday Angela Merkel put
an end to 2-1/2 years of Greek isolation," wrote center-left daily Ta Nea
front page editorial with the headline: "She came... she saw... she promised."
Conservative daily Kathimerini said it would be naive to expect that Greece's
problems could be solved in one visit, but Merkel's positive message "indicates
we are in the last phase, just before the cherished light at the end of the
But Germany's Bild interpreted Merkel's words as sending the
message that "Greece can stay in the euro no matter what the numbers say or how
little progress they make and despite the fact that we Germans were insulted as
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"The Greece on show in central Athens yesterday does not belong
in the euro," wrote Nikolaus Blome, its top political commentator, who called
the Greeks "ungrateful" for Germany's large contribution to bailouts from Europe
and the International Monetary Fund.
Allgemeine Zeitung daily agreed: "The Greeks will only see the light at the end
of the tunnel that the chancellor promised when they understand that the 'Fourth
Reich' is not to blame for their problems." But if one of Merkel's aims was to
reassure politicians at home that fellow conservative Samaras' efforts deserve
support but that she has no intention of relaxing the conditions for helping
him, the chancellor may have achieved her objective.
sent a good signal in two ways, firstly in terms of friendly diplomacy, but also
by showing there will be no loosening of the bailout terms. Greece has to fulfil
the conditions and Greece agreed to this," said Markus Soeder, finance minister
of Bavaria's conservative state government.
Merkel's conservatives are
hoping to win a third term in power in next year's federal election.
Germany's opposition Social Democrats, the European Parliament chairman Martin
Schulz said Merkel had struck the right balance between showing support for
Samaras while also making clear there would be "no blank cheque" for
Merkel's coalition and the SPD alike reserved special venom for
the head of Germany's hardline Left party, Bernd Riexinger, for joining
protesters in the streets of Athens on Tuesday.
parliamentary leader of the Bavarian conservatives, said she was "furious" at
Riexinger for acting "against the interests of his own country".
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