The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has responded in a remarkably reserved manner to the Greek requests for extending the term of payment of the 110 billion debt, reducing the interest rates on it and the purchase of Greek government debt by the future European fund for financial stability. Merkel defined the debt payments rescheduling as part of the euro area’s common financial stability measures package which will be discussed in March at a European summit. The interest rate reduction and the eventual purchase of the Greek debt by the future European fund for financial stability were not included in the agenda of her meeting with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Berlin.
The Chancellor of Germany said at a press conference that talks are underway concerning the term of the support programme to Greece. She said that the period of the support measures to Greece was three years, and seven years to Ireland and they were part of the common package which was on the table of negotiations. In this way Angela Merkel made it clear that the extension of the Greek debt payment term is directly related to the common package for the debt crisis in the eurozone and indirectly related with the German-French agreement on competition.
Angela Merkel expressed her positive attitude to Greece’s efforts to regulate its finances, stressing that the country "has begun to establish internal order." This, according to the Chancellor, was not unnoticed by public opinion in her country. She said that many German people were convinced that Greece was on the right track, adding that the more firmly the country followed this course, the more the people convinced in that. Angela Merkel stressed that Greece must continue to implement the programme and clarified that no new economic measures need to be taken. She, however, noted that the programme would not end in 2011 but in 2013 and the Greek government and Greek people had a long way of reforms to go.
Greek media commented that this statement of the Chancellor is made at a time when scenarios for possible Greek failure and returning to the drachma have resumed in Germany. The prestigious Munich economic institute IFO insists in a report that it would be better for Greece to return to the drachma for 10-15 years. The manager of the Bundesbank Axel Weber completely rejected the idea of purchasing government bonds of bankrupt south European countries by the European fund for financial stability.
The Greek prime minister hastened to deny the scenarios for bond loans payments haircut and stressed that Greece would meet its obligations to creditors, and Angela Merkel again put emphasis on the purpose of a stable currency. In turn, George Papandreou promised that the Greek debt and its management would not additionally burden German taxpayers, because Greece would fully implement its economic programme. Faith in the programme "for us is a matter of confidence in ourselves and in our European partners," said George Papandreou and described the reforms that were undertaken in the country.
Hours earlier, the Greek Prime Minister became the target of attacks by a group of Greek students at Humboldt University in Berlin. The students met him, chanting "PASOK is here and robs people's money," which paraphrases the old motto of the party’s supporters "PASOK is here, united and strong." The young people interrupted the speech of the Greek Prime Minister repeatedly and tried to raise a placard with slogans. He invited them to hear his words first and then to protest. "I would like to hear young people’s views," said George Papandreou, inviting a representative of theirs to speak from the rostrum. The students did not respond to his appeal.
A Greek politician is the target of attacks by Greek students abroad not for the first time. The former Minister of Finance and Economy from the New Democracy government George Alogoskoufis was attacked with eggs by a group of anarchists during his lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The anarchists entered the hall when the minister was already before the microphone. The young people began to shout slogans in support of the ongoing prisoners’ hunger strike in Greece and against capitalism and threw eggs at the minister. Then, they left the room, most of them hiding their faces.