BERLIN Greece has moved closer to activating a euro zone aid package by seeking talks with European authorities and the IMF although European finance ministers say Athens has not officially requested a rescue. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, would be the biggest contributor within the euro zone and Chancellor Angela Merkel faces strong public opposition to any bailout just before a crucial regional vote on May 9.
Following are extracts from influential German newspaper editorials and commentaries by staff correspondents on Greece and Merkel's response to the crisis from Friday: HANDELSBLATT (Business daily)
"Is Angela Merkel coping with the Greece crisis? While the euro zone firms up the aid package for Greece, the Chancellor is still acting as if the package will never be activated.
"For Germans, it is no longer about whether they must pay, but about how much.... Once the German loans have gone to Athens ... part of the aid money would be lost... The Chancellor can still prevent that: by calling a debt conference for Greece as soon as possible."
"With (Merkel's) current behavior we are heading toward the most expensive solution for Germany."
FINANCIAL TIMES DEUTSCHLAND (Business)
"The longer the Germans try to have nothing to do with the global crisis, the worse it is -- whether we are talking about aid for Greece or the question of whether strong export nations must contribute to global imbalances."
"What the Germans are doing is meant well but it is actually a disaster. If rising taxes and lower spending makes everything worse during a recession, then Greece is threatened by a long term crisis. "
"Speculation works best when there is uncertainty. With her months-long hesitation about whether to help or not, Angela Merkel has only contributed to the speculation against Greece .. it was meant well, but it is a major contribution to the disaster."
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (Conservative)
"Whoever lets himself be driven by the markets shouldn't be surprised if investors hand him a hefty bill. That is what is happening now to the euro group. The amateurs in Brussels could have learned from the IMF how to deal with hard-nosed speculators."
"Investors are lapping up the euro zone subsidies, pocketing the profits they make on Greek bonds. The euro group is being led like a circus animal around the capital market arena, either due to fear of Greece or a lack of market understanding."
"There is scarcely any doubt that (Greece) wants to activate the aid package that euro zone finance ministers agreed last weekend. Germany will bear the heaviest burden."
"As the various maturity dates of Greek bonds are lining up like pearls on a chain, the first tranche will not be the last."
(Compiled by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)