Realpolitik Redux

It's Not the Economy, Stupid

Schäuble Steinmeier  Metodi Popow - 360-berlin de
Thinking outside the financial box: Mr. Steinmeier (l) and Mr. Schäuble (r).
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the E.U. pulls out of Greece, the country might move closer to Vladimir Putin’s Russia or turn into a springboard for Middle Eastern terrorists.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The Greek government is in ongoing talks with lenders to try to unlock the remaining €7.2 billion in its current bailout fund.
    • It is due to make a payment of €750 million to the IMF on May 12.
    • Any new bailout after June would have to pass a vote in the German Bundestag.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

As Germany’s foreign minister, saving the world is part of Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s job description. The Social Democrat had no problem routinely discussing the major issues in world politics at the G7 summit of top industrialized nations in Lübeck, Germany, in mid-April.

But when the discussion turned to Greece, Mr. Steinmeier became emotional. “Let’s not gossip so casually about the ‘Grexit’,” he shouted out. Europe has to solve its own problems, he added, and hold the bloc together; otherwise, the rest of the world will stop taking the European Union seriously.

Mr. Steinmeier’s outburst is a sign of the new tone in the heated German debate surrounding whether or not to continue supporting Athens, which has received €240 billion from international lenders since 2010.

It is no longer a question of economic deliberations. There is hardly a politician left in Berlin who still believes the debt-ridden country can make real progress in turning its economy around.

Moral considerations also don’t play much of a role any more; the obnoxious demeanor of the radical leftist Syriza government since coming to power in January has melted away any remaining sympathy for the Greeks.

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