BERLIN Nov 28 German media accused the
government on Wednesday of deceiving taxpayers over the true
costs of saving Greece and said the euro zone would eventually
have to write off much of its Greek debt.
The Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament, is
expected to vote later this week on the package of measures
agreed by euro zone finance ministers late on Monday that aim to
cut Greek debt to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020.
The Bundestag's approval is not in doubt but the chorus of
anger and frustration reverberating among German newspapers and
lawmakers highlights the growing political risks for Chancellor
Angela Merkel ahead of next September's federal elections.
"The never-ending story," quipped Germany's best-selling
Bild of the latest Greek rescue, depicting Merkel, Finance
Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and other top officials as
characters from the cult fantasy film of the same name.
In a commentary, Bild's Hugo Mueller-Vogg reached for a
medical metaphor to restate the paper's long-standing opposition
to euro zone bailouts it says German taxpayers cannot afford.
"The team of European doctors around the patient's bed
justify the continually rising costs of the treatment with the
hope that at some point the expensive medicines will prove
effective," wrote Mueller-Vogg.
None of the doctors will admit that the costs of saving
Greece will be great, he said.
The business daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the
measures agreed for Greece, which include cutting interest rates
and extending debt maturity dates, already amounted to a
"haircut" for creditor nations holding Greek debt.
"After these crisis negotiations Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble can no longer maintain that saving the euro costs no
money," wrote Holger Steltzner in the paper.
"(The deal) cannot be described (as a haircut) so that the
finance ministers of Germany, Finland and the Netherlands do not
lose face," he said, referring to key creditor nations who
require their parliaments to approve the package.
GERMANY "TIED TO A CORPSE"
A weary sense of deja vu pervaded much newspaper coverage.
"Greece is saved - yet again," sighed business daily
London-based German academic Gunnar Beck, in a guest column
for Handelsblatt online, said Germany was "tied to a corpse" and
said it would be better to cut itself loose despite the benefits
the common currency bring for German exporters.
Other newspapers said the special treatment doled out to
Greece was unfair on countries such as Ireland and Portugal that
have made big sacrifices to get their public finances in order.
Bild said 25 Eurosceptic lawmakers from Merkel's coalition
would vote against the Greece package. This would be
embarrassing for Merkel but would pose no threat to its passage.
The main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have signalled
they will not try to block the Greek package in parliament but
say it must be properly debated and one senior SPD lawmaker
warned the government not to take their support for granted.
"How we act is still open. Whether we back or reject (the
Greek aid) is not yet decided," Thomas Oppermann, SPD
parliamentary floor leader, said on Wednesday, in comments aimed
at pressuring the government to allow a full and open debate.
Despite official denials that Greece's official creditors
will eventually suffer some write-off of their debt holdings,
some members of Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) said
they saw such a move as inevitable.
"I fear that this cannot continue indefinitely without a
haircut," CDU lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach told Bild.
Juergen Trittin of the opposition Greens agreed, adding that
the writedown would come "not before 2016" - well after the
German federal elections.