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20 February 2012
GRAECA FIDES, NULLA FIDES
This is a German quotation translated into Latin. It is attributed to the current German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. It means “you can’t trust the Greeks whatever they say”.
Schäuble is scheduled to meet with the other eurozone finance ministers today Monday 20 February 2012 to decide whether to bail out the heavily indebted Greek economy for the second time in only 18 months. They got €110bn last time. Now they need another €130 billion – at least. Schäuble has just got a written pledge from the two main Greek political parties promising that they will do whatever he tells them to do by way of spending cuts. But Mr Schäuble is not a happy bunny. He does not appear to be 100% convinced that the Greeks will come good on their pledges. He has made it clear that he is unwilling to pour money into “a bottomless pit”. German money, at any rate. His deputy Steffen Kampeter is quoted as saying: “We expect the Greeks to rise to their responsibilities. This Monday we will see whether Greece delivers or whether we will be forced to decide on another course of action, one that is not desired.” Now what would that be? Sounds a bit like a threat to us. Maybe a threat to kick Greece out of the eurozone? Who knows? This is what is known as “solidarity” among the Europeans. Think snakepit. That’s probably what they mean by “ever closer union”. Moreover, as you can imagine, the Greeks are not happy bunnies either. And that goes right up to the top. Greek President Karolos Papoulias has reportedly said: “Who is Mr Schäuble to ridicule Greece? I don’t accept insults to my country by Mr Schäuble.” Ouch! Today’s meeting should be fun! With any luck, it could well end in fisticuffs! In any case, most financial analysts appear to agree that, whatever the outcome today, the savage deflation imposed on the Greeks as a condition for getting the bail-out mean that the Greek economy will not grow enough to enable the country to pay off its debts anyway. It’s a catch-22 situation. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’d say that lot are up the creek without a paddle! Many Germans take their summer holidays in Greece. We can’t imagine they will be very popular there this year. Particularly Mr Schäuble. Best give Naxos a wide berth this time. Anyone for Baden-Baden?