Merkel's Dilemma

Save Greece, but Not at Any Price

TOPSHOTS German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hold their earpieces as they address a press conference following talks at the chancellery in Berlin, on March 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel try and reach an understanding.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Saving Greece at all costs could backfire, prompting other euro-zone crisis countries to stall economic reforms.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Greece still has no deal with its creditors; the International Monetary Fund has withdrawn its team from the negotiations.
    • Euro-zone budget rules stipulate that member countries should have a budget deficit of less than 3 percent and debt below 60 percent of economic output.
    • Germany, France and the 17 other countries in the euro zone have repeatedly allowed leeway for euro members to reach these targets.
  • Audio

    Audio

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“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel used this phrase again on Wednesday before she met with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The saying puts the situation remarkably clearly. She wants to bail out Greece at all costs, no matter how difficult Mr. Tsipras makes her life with his riotous diplomacy.

Ms. Merkel’s statement on Wednesday was an unusual commitment for the Chancellor, who likes to keep all her options open until the last possible moment. So why did she make this statement?

There are two possible interpretations. First, Ms. Merkel has made a decision. Even though many economists and the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, keep stressing that a Greek bankruptcy and its exit from the euro zone won’t lead to chaos, she is not willing to risk finding out whether the experts are right.

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