Mrs. Merkel and her advisers apparently exist on a different planet or are simply as callous as they come. Ignoring the burgeoning European opposition to German policies has become the plat d’ jour in Berlin and this was obviously the spirit behind the decision for Merkel’s trip south. The Chancellor’s presence in Athens, a mere brief pit stop barricaded behind a phalanx of armed police, snipers on the roofs, and steel barriers outside the Greek parliament, was welcome only by a beleaguered Greek government acting as an appointed sub-contractor to carry out Germany’s wishes. This true nature of the pit stop did not escape the Greek people, who condemned and rejected the visit. So, it is not difficult to declare Merkel’s brief appearance in Athens a resounding failure and an aggravation of an already hostile mood toward Germany throughout the country.

Did the visit give a political boost to the Samaras administration?

A failure is never a boost to those who create disasters. Under the present circumstances, any expression of approval to a Greek government by the Germans, even as artificial as that conveyed by the Merkel visit, is a kiss of death, to say the least. Samaras has been already equated in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of Greeks as yet another slash-and-burn figure dedicated to pauperizing the overwhelming majority of the Greek people in order to satisfy the lenders. The next brutal austerity “package,” agreed with the troika and expected to be rammed through parliament by the feeble coalition Samaras government, will be the beginning of the end of this administration that is following in the footsteps of its disastrous predecessors, the Papandreou and Papademos governments.

What were the elements at the heart of the popular feeling that surrounded the visit?

Simply put, rage, condemnation, and hostility, which also reflected glaringly upon the Samaras government barricaded behind the hordes of police just like its esteemed visitor. Merkel made no effort to offer even the slightest verbal reassurance to her hosts. She could only “hope and wish” that Greece would eventually exit the crisis. She offered not even a two-bit mild promise, the most routine lollipop of all politicians. She also warned that the troika report now cooking will be the “only” determinant of whether Greece will get the next tranche of the “bailout” package – the report of the same troika whose estimates about the Greek economy turned out to be so calamitously off the mark since 2010.

All this sounds so hopeless. Why then Samaras agreed to this visit?

Just like all Greek politicians of the post-junta Greek “political elite” Mr. Samaras obviously prefers to agree rather than disagree with Greece’s foreign overlords without much argument. His early “determined” stance against Germany and its diktats dissolved instantly when he “won” the last general election. The usual fatigued “pundits” of the discredited Greek media will discover, no doubt, many supposedly esoteric reasons why Samaras “maneuvered” like that to bring Frau Merkel to Athens. But those who would put any amount of more somber thinking into trying to interpret Samaras’s posture will reach either a dead end or conclusions about the Greek PM’s political acumen too inelegant to be quoted here in full.

In the bottom line, was there anything concrete out of this visit that would give Samaras legs to stand on?

Merkel offered neither a dime nor a leg. It is safe to assume that Germany has decided that a “Grexit” is not to its benefit, so it will continue dragging the Greek government through the gutter until Berlin allows the next tranche to arrive, but not before the end of November, when the Greeks will be on their last breath. In any case, the tranche won’t trickle in any amount down into the “real” Greek economy but will be again deposited into the special account that pays the lenders directly without the Greek government having any access to it.

Any last thoughts on “Merkel visits Athens”?

There are unverified reports that German think tanks are trawling for Greek collaborators in order to open branches in Athens. German think tanks moved out of Greece at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in order to focus their advocacy on the former Eastern bloc. This alleged move today may signify a planned German attempt to begin delivering “authoritative analyses” to Greek opinion makers and public for a good purpose: convincing the unconvinced that it is best for Hellas to choose eternal austerity ala Germania and abandon all hope of return to genuine growth.  But the future is of course unknown and we can only speculate about the sustainability of the monetary union as a whole. This dark prospect dwarves any of the individual crises in periphery countries. For all the boasting by the “Fourth Reich” about German prowess and the healthy dividends of the Germanic work ethic, the Armageddon is not too far from the gates of Berlin. In the 1940s, Germany destroyed Europe and itself in a momentous spasm of barbaric violence. In the present day, Germany is again setting up the Continent for a potential disaster of epic proportion. This time around there may be no Blitzkrieg, no Panzer, no strategic bombing, and no rivers of blood but the bottom line will be as calamitous for the Continent’s socio-economic fabric as that of the Day After in 1945.
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