Over the past two days, Mrs Merkel was in Athens on a victory lap to celebrate her successful subjugation of the Syriza government and the subsequent extension of the Greeks’ debt bondage. Nevertheless, even this subservient Greek government managed to upset her victory lap by mentioning the… war and the reparations the Greeks will continue to demand for the gigantic loss of life and infrastructure under the Nazi occupation. Click above to hear my interview on this subject with BBC Radio 4.
BACKGROUND TO MRS MERKEL’s VISIT
Mrs Merkel was visiting Athens over the past two days. In her mind, she would have liked to think of her visit as a victory lap. In the mind of most Greeks, Mrs Merkel came to Greece to inspect the desert she helped create (through her bailouts-austerity combination) and to call it… recovery. Ironically, her Greek triumph unleashed deflationary forces that hit Germany (eg -ve interest rates) and wrecked her career. Yes, it is the case that most conservative German voters turned decidedly against her when she did the right thing by letting one million Syrian refugees into Germany in 2015. But, the tide had turned against her even more decidedly when negative interest rates began to eat into the fabled Swabian housewife’s nest egg. In other words, by the time Mrs Merkel let the Syrians in, her base had lost faith in her due to deflationary forces whose origin was the harsh austerity that was first imposed upon the Greeks. From this perspective, Mrs Merkel’s Athens visit is replete with irony: A chancellor on a victory tour celebrating her loss of power and her impending confinement to the group of politicians that wasted monumental capital; capital used not to unite Europe but to fragment it and to leave it open to the vagaries of xenophobic anti-Europeanism.