Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Newly crowned Greek champion Olympiakos settles for scoreless draw against ...

Newly crowned Greek champion Olympiakos settles for scoreless draw against ...
The Republic
ATHENS, Greece — Newly crowned Greek champion Olympiakos was held to a 0-0 home draw by PAOK on Sunday. Olympiakos, the record 40-time Greek winner, leads PAOK and Asteras by 17 points with three rounds left. Asteras will get the chance to ...


Gardening tips: four ways to beat the freeze

From plant protection to returning to microgreens, follow our tips to avoid herbaceous harm from sub-zero Easter temperatures

1. Seed potatoes are traditionally planted on Good Friday, but many gardeners have delayed. If the ground is frozen, try planting in containers instead. Two or three early tubers such as Rocket or Red Duke of York placed in a large builder's bucket or plastic bin (drill holes in the bottom for drainage) will produce a good crop of spuds, and they're less vulnerable to slugs, too. Cover the container with horticultural fleece or place in a frost-free shed until the weather warms. If your soil isn't frozen, do plant outside but protect the rows with several layers of fleece.

2. Throw fleece over newly emerged shoots of herbaceous perennials in exposed spots in the garden to shield them from freezing winds. Fleece will also protect open flowers and buds of delicate fruit trees such as apricots and cherries. Mulches can help to preserve moisture in the soil and suppress weeds, but if applied when the soil is frozen they will simply lock in the cold for longer, so wait for a thaw. If you must get on with something in the garden, prune gooseberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries and tie in blackberry canes.

3. Most vegetable seeds need a consistent soil temperature of 6-8C before they can be sown direct: peg down black plastic sheeting over bare soil to warm it ready for sowing and planting. In the meantime, sow seeds of parsley, cabbages and lettuces in plastic module trays and place them on a warm, sunny windowsill, with a clear plastic bag or clingfilm over the trays to trap in heat. Once the weather warms and you can see roots poking through the drainage holes, harden seedlings off by gradually exposing them to conditions outside. Plant out once you're comfortable working without a coat.

4. Microgreens are the ultimate quick-return windowsill crop. Try sowing coriander, radish, chard, fenugreek and mustard seeds in a plastic takeaway food tray or a length of guttering and covering with a sprinkle of compost or vermiculite. Keep the compost moist and within days you'll be cutting handfuls of flavoursome greens to sprinkle on stir-fries, dahls and salads. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Cyprus bets on casinos to help boost economy after savings raid

President braves wrath of Orthodox church by including plan to lift ban on gambling among his initiatives to rescue economy

Cyprus is to lift a ban on casinos as part of measures to counter the economic shock of a much larger than expected 60% raid on the savings of the island's most wealthy depositors.

President Nicos Anastasiades outlined a 12-point plan to rescue the troubled economy before travelling to Athens, where he was reported to be meeting the Greek prime minister to petition for €2bn in aid, despite Greece's own economic collapse.

The Cypriot bailout is the first eurozone rescue package to punish savers by forcing them to hand over a slice of their savings in broken banks. The sums are far higher than original estimates that Bank of Cyprus depositors would take a 30% or 40% hit. The conditions were imposed when Cyprus was told to find €5.8bn as a condition of a €10bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Anastasiades has braved the wrath of the influential Orthodox church by declaring that he will allow casinos to operate in Cyprus. Gambling has until now been legal only on the northern, Turkish side of the island.

The president's other initiatives, outlined in an interview with the newspaper Fileleftheros Sunday, include tax exemptions on business profits reinvested in Cyprus and encouraging homeowners to reduce rents.

Anastasiades, who came to power after elections in February, was understood to be holding talks with the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, who backed demands from the European troika that Cyprus pay for its bailout with a raid on bank deposits.

To persuade Greece to hand over some of its own €48bn rescue loan, he planned to meet also with Samaras's coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos, as well as opposition party leaders and Greek president Karolos Papoulias.

Bank of Cyprus customers with deposits of more than €100,000 learned at the weekend that 37.5% of any money they hold over that threshold will be converted into shares in the country's largest bank, which are currently almost worthless. A further 22.5% of their savings will be put into a fund that earns no interest and could be confiscated should the bank need further funds.

The remaining 40% of large deposits at the Bank of Cyprus will be "temporarily frozen for liquidity reasons", but continue to accrue existing levels of interest, plus another 10%, the central bank said.

The savings converted to bank shares would theoretically allow depositors to recover their losses. But the stock now holds little value and may never regain a value equal to the depositors' losses.

Businesses have been particularly affected by the measures. Fast-growing digital company Viber is headquartered in Cyprus and offers a service similar to Skype, designed for mobile phones. Its CEO, Talmon Marco, said he was considering leaving the island. "This is an extremely poor decision. We are considering all options at the moment," he added.

Cyprus' finance minister Michalis Sarris said the measures were taken to put the Bank of Cyprus on a solid footing.

"We suffered a serious blow without doubt … but we now have a bank which is reformed and ready to assume its role in the Cypriot economy," the state-run Cyprus News Agency quoted him as saying.

Observers have accused some of the 17 European countries that use the euro of wanting to see the end of Cyprus as an international financial services centre. They have also been accused of trying to send a message that European taxpayers will no longer shoulder the burden of bailing out problem banks.

But Germanfinance minister Wolfgang Schäeuble challenged that notion, insisting in an interview with the Bild newspaper published on Saturday that "Cyprus is and remains a special, isolated case", and doesn't point the way for future European rescue programs.

Recovery gambles

The Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, will introduce 12 measures to relieve the crisis, to be implemented over the next six months. In a plan reminiscent of Spain's project to create a EuroVegas gambling resort on farmland near Madrid, Cyprus wants to put forward legislation to allow its own casinos. This would be a public policy reversal for the island, which only last year banned online casinos and exchange betting.

Other measures include: forcing the housing department of housing to license development projects within at least 30 days; exempting company profits reinvested in Cyprus from tax; encouraging banks to lend for longer terms at lower rates; compelling businesses to ensure at least 70% of staff are Cypriot; finding ways to cut the cost of electricity; and nudging landlords to reduce rates with the threat of urgent interim measures if they do not respond. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Is Germany too powerful for Europe?

Twenty years ago, Germany's economy was stagnating. Today, as the eurozone crisis deepens, this giant is keeping Europe afloat. But what does it want in return? Stuart Jeffries talks to German sociologist Ulrich Beck, who believes that his country has become a political monster

In his novel Fatherland, Robert Harris envisaged a hellish scenario – Hitler won the second world war. Decades later, the Greater German Reich extends from the Rhine to the Caspian Sea. The rest of Europe, though notionally consisting of independent states, is really under the Nazi jackboot.

Sound familiar? Of course not. That nightmare never came to pass. Happily, Germany does not rule Europe. Or does it? Munich-based sociologist Ulrich Beck argues in his new book that the eurozone catastrophe has given birth to a political monster: a German Europe. When, on 1 July this year, Croatia becomes a member, the European Union will contain 500 million people and be the largest market and trading bloc in the world.

"The new German power in Europe is not based as in former times on force," writes Beck in German Europe. Which is a consolation. "It has no need of weapons to impose its will on other states," he says. "It has no need to invade, and yet is ubiquitous."

His homeland's latest iron chancellor Angela Merkel rules Europe, imposing German values on feebler client nations, bailing out southern Europeans with their oversized public sectors, rampant tax evasion and long lunches. "In the countries most harshly affected by the crisis, many people think they are losers because the austerity policy pursued jointly by Berlin and Brussels deprives them of their means of livelihood – and also of their human dignity," argues Beck.

Other Germans, naturally, don't see it quite that way. The official line from the German embassy in London is that Germany is helping other European economies to become globally competitive and more able to take on emerging markets. "Germany was among the first to have started this endeavour and therefore might temporarily be a little ahead of others," says spokesman Norman Walter. "Our main political drive over the last few years has been to increase competitiveness in all eurozone and EU member states."

To get a different perspective on German domination of Europe, I consult a standup comic: Henning Wehn, a German comedian who is tired of being called an oxymoron by Britons, and is in the middle of a UK tour. The blurb for his show goes: "According to Henning, there's no shortcut to success, hard work will eventually pay off and there is no shame in paying tax." How this transmutes into comedy is anybody's guess, but it seems to suggest that Wehn believes slacker Europe needs a German economics lesson. "Well, economically Germany is mainly dominant because it is the country with most people," says Wehn. "It also has several things that explain its economic success and from which others can learn – our system of apprenticeships, our building societies that help entrepreneurs. When David Cameron spoke about strivers and skivers, that reminded me of a Swabian saying: 'Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue!' It means: "Work, work, build your little house!' That sort of striving is deep in German identity."

The worry is that Germany thinks of itself as a nation of strivers bankrolling a continent of skivers. "German money [is being] thrown away on the bankrupt Greeks," ran a headline in the tabloid Bild, while Focus magazine had a cover image of the Venus de Milo giving the finger to the world. "If Ireland and Greece sank into the sea tomorrow, Germany would be quietly relieved," says Simon Winder, publishing director at Penguin and author of Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern. "Germany today reminds me of the British Empire, burdened with non-lucrative colonies that it has to defend when all it's really bothered about is India. The problem for Germany is that it has no India just, as it were, lots of Sierra Leones."

The latest euro crisis over Cyprus bears out Beck's analysis. According to Newsnight's Paul Mason, the Germans want to "avoid creating a moral hazard, rewarding a country that has sold itself as a rule-free playground for Russians who want to keep their money". For German politicians, and not just those of Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union, that irresponsible nonsense can't go on for ever: it's time for Cyprus to wake up and smell the austerity. Beck argues that Germany is teaching Cyprus a moral lesson, namely that, as he puts it: "Suffering purifies. The road through hell, the road through austerity, leads to the heaven of economic recovery." It's a very German lesson, borne of the philosophies of Martin Luther and Max Weber and based on the protestant work ethic. That doesn't play too well in Nicosia: hence all those "Merkel – Kaput" banners waved by soon-to-be redundant employees of Cyprus's Popular Bank.

But what are the Germans getting out of teaching allegedly slacker Europeans how to run their economies? For Beck, Germany's European dominance has given the nation a new sense of identity after decades of Nazi guilt, and provides liberation from what he calls the "never again syndrome" – never again a Holocaust, never again fascism, never again militarism. After the second world war and the Holocaust, he argues, Germany was in ruins morally and economically. Now, in both senses, it is back.

The origins of German economic dominance predate our current crisis. More than 20 years ago, Germany made a sacrifice for Europe at Maastricht when it agreed to put the deutschmark to the sword so that another currency could be born. "The tragedy for the Germans is that they viewed the euro as their great, healing gift to the rest of Europe, an act of self-denial in which they cashed in their totemic deutschmark for the continent's greater good," says Winder. Since the fall of Hitler, it has been Germany's self-imposed obligation to help build a Europe where the petty nationalisms that had ruined the continent in two world wars could be definitively overcome.

It's all about Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which means (roughly) the struggle to come to terms with the past – and, in particular, a Nazi past. (Maybe Britain will some time undergo its own Vergangenheitsbewältigung for its imperial shame, but that's another story.) "The Germans no longer wish to be thought of as racists and warmongers," Beck says. "They would prefer to become the schoolmasters and moral enlighteners of Europe." It's a moot question whether the rest of Europe wants to be on the receiving end of German enlightenment. "Germany's chorus of I-want-to-teach-the-world-to-sing doesn't play too well in Tring or Extramadura," says Winder.

But that's the Teutonic song: two decades ago, Germany after reunification was once as Greece is today, with a stagnating economy and five million unemployed. But, thanks to neoliberal austerity and taking on the Protestant notion that "suffering purifies", the Germans were able to realise a jobs miracle. Now, Beck argues, German reunification is being used as the template for German crisis management in Europe. As head of the continent's strongest economic power, Merkel is in a position to dictate the terms under which struggling eurozone nations can apply for further credit, eroding the democratic autonomy of the Greek, Italian and Spanish parliaments. Beck calls her Merkiavelli – after Machiavelli – to highlight the political nous with which she has run rings around other leaders.

He suggests that she is the uncrowned queen of Europe. Queen Merkiavelli the First of Europe, perhaps, demands that Germany's new colonies save in the interests of stability – a formula based on the good housekeeping practices of a woman who sometimes casts herself as a sensible Swabian housewife. Beck's chancellor sounds like Margaret Thatcher, who also prudently approached the balancing of government accounts as though they were a household budget. "There is one important difference," Beck says. "Thatcher was doing to Britain something the British electorate had voted for. What Merkel is doing to Europe has no democratic mandate."

Viewed thus, Germans are power-crazed anti-democrats using economic crisis to stage a furtive putsch on a supine continent. Aren't we witnessing a German power grab? "Heavens, no. They have no imperial bone left in their body," argues Winder. "They are colonists, but incredibly reluctant ones. There is no smoke-filled room filled with sausage-eating Germans who want to dominate Europe. There is no conspiracy."

"I think that's an incredibly silly point to make," says Wehn. "German dominance in Europe is not anti-democratic. There are parts of Europe that are economically ahead of other parts. It's just the same in Britain: London is economically ahead of the north-east of England. So should London leave sterling? That's obviously a silly answer. The same is true in Europe. There are fishing villages in Greece that are going to be economically negligible, while Germany is dominant. Does that mean we should leave the euro? No! A strong Europe needs a strong Germany."

There is, though, a paradox in Germany's European domination. It is economically supreme, but culturally negligible. Some of us are enjoying the Wagner bicentenary, but it can hardly be argued that his music indicates the virility of German cultural exports in the new millennium. Nobody is wearing lederhosen in Glasgow or Warsaw. Next to nobody is learning German as a foreign language. Your next box set might well be in Danish but nobody's will be in German. Fatih Akin, Christian Petzold, Hans-Christian Schmid and Ulrich Köhler have one thing in common: few have heard of these alleged icons of German new wave cinema outside Germany. Yes, the Tate's website did crash briefly when it was announced that tickets were available for the Kraftwerk gig at the Turbine Hall, but that's the exception that proves the rule.

"They're living on empty, culturally," says Winder. "There's no German novel I'm looking forward to, and no German film. But it's the same throughout Europe. Europe is culturally null. Britain is the cultural dynamo of Europe by a million miles."

Why is Germany failing to export its cultural goods with the success of, say, its car, machine tool or optics industries? "There's one simple reason," replies Wehn. "Bismarck didn't believe in colonies." What Wehn means by that is that the 19th-century German chancellor, who presided over a vast and recently unified people, decided not to emulate Britain, Spain and France in their imperial land grabs. As a result, German never became a global language; English became the world's most widely spoken tongue. "The English language is dominant because of Hollywood and that helps British culture," says Wehn. In a recent survey by Monocle magazine, Britain was found to be the world's leader in what's called "soft power" – a country's ability to make friends and influence people not through military might but through culture, education, language and values. "In short, the things that make people love us rather than fear us," says John Worne, the British council's director of strategy.

Germany, by contrast, is feared for its economic dominance. At the same time it seems culturally insular. What a shame we don't get more German culture here. After all, the British and Germans are, one world cup and two world wars notwithstanding, simpatico. Germanophile 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle wrote of Germany "speaking the same old Saxon tongue and thinking in the same old Saxon spirit with ourselves", while George Orwell wrote that during the first world war "the English working class were in contact with foreigners to an extent that is rarely possible. The sole result was that they brought back a hatred of all Europeans, except the Germans, whose courage they admired."

Norman Walter at the German embassy argues that the case for his homeland's cultural nullity is weak. "Well, we're not exactly world champions – but we aren't that bad either." Ingeniously, he quotes back at me a string of Guardian arts stories that seem to suggest German culture thrives here. Last year's gig by heavy-metal band Rammstein in 2012 sold out within minutes and Dave Simpson's five-star review described it as "the rock show of the year". Judith Mackrell argued that Tanztheater Wuppertal's London retrospective World Cities was "revelatory". Similarly, the Economist noted that "British enthusiasm for modern German culture is quietly growing" and that "a new breed of artists is changing British tastes in German culture". And today there's Kurt Schwitters at Tate Britain, Rosemarie Trockel at the Serpentine Gallery. Nobody even mentions the great German art on show at the Northern Renaissance exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, but they really should.

Yes, but visual art and music are the most readily exportable cultural products. Hardly any German literature makes it into the bestseller lists here. In Germany now, the bestseller lists are dominated by Timur Vermes's novel Er is wieder da (He's back), which is about Hitler. The führer awakes in Berlin in the summer of 2011, having fallen asleep in 1945. Hitler becomes a media celebrity before entering politics where he campaigns against dog muck and speeding. The book has sold more than 400,000 copies in Germany, but is as yet untranslated here. A shame: it's a popular account of German Vergangenheitsbewältigung that deserves to be read in Britain. Maybe more Britons should learn German.

And what about German TV? Why, I ask Wehn, are there no German TV series filling BBC4's 9pm Saturday night Euro-drama subtitle-a-rama slot? He contends that we aren't missing much, apart from a cop show called Derrick, which finished broadcasting 15 years ago. But why is there no German rival to Denmark's The Killing, Sweden's Wallander, Italy's Inspector Montalbano or France's Spiral? "In Germany there's no incentive to sell TV content abroad. The BBC makes a lot of money from selling foreign rights, which explains why so much of its content is shown overseas. In Germany, the contracts aren't like that – and the domestic market is huge so there's no incentive."

What does a German Europe mean for the economically bumbling yet allegedly cultural dynamic Britain? "It is drifting into irrelevance," replies Beck. "There is already a two-speed Europe, with a pioneer Europe in the eurozone that the rest of Europe, especially Britain, doesn't really take part in decisions about. Cameron doesn't realise there's a shifting power base in Europe but instead focuses on withdrawal from Europe." Folly, he argues. "Europe isn't across the Channel. For the first time every European citizen existentially depends on Europe." But that too is a German perspective: Britons have rarely gone for continental things such as existentialism, still less a cosmopolitan transcontinental menage.

Unsurprisingly, as a good German committed to the end of petty nationalisms, Beck counsels more powers to the European Union to bring the undemocratic reign of Queen Merkiavelli to an end. In the past, budgetary credits were tied to austerity and neo-liberal reform: in the future, Beck argues, they should be linked to a readiness to support a new, continent-wide social contract set up to defend job security, extend freedom and promote democracy.

Good luck with all that, Professor, I say. "It may well sound hopelessly utopian and naive," he replies, "but why not be utopian and naive? Look at the alternative." Maybe only Germans, thanks to the darkness of their 20th-century past, have such sunny hopes for this benighted continent. It's a different kind of German Europe from the one Beck indicts and one that nobody need fear: not one premised on Teutonic austerity, but filled with a European idealism you get hardly anywhere else on this cynical continent, least of all in Britain. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Greek NBG says not formally told of objections to Eurobank deal

Economic Times

Greek NBG says not formally told of objections to Eurobank deal
National (NBG) took over 84.3 percent of Eurobank in February via a share swap as the Greek banking industry consolidates to cope with fallout from the country's debt crisis and deep recession. But the move has run into resistance from the "troika" of ...
EU, IMF resisting Greek bank NBG's takeover of Eurobank - sourcesReuters UK
EU, IMF resisting merger of Greek banks NBG, Eurobank: paperFox Business

all 3 news articles »


David Catalan: Crafting the Cyprus Deal: A Road Filled With Blunders

The role of the Troika in bailing out governments and banks is nothing new, but the solutions put forward by EU leaders to improve the Cypriot crisis seem to be founded on little foresight, and without regard for the tragic mistakes of the past few years.


Rich Cyprus Savers To Lose Up To 60 PERCENT Of Their Accounts

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Big depositors at Cyprus' largest bank may be forced to accept losses of up to 60 percent, far more than initially estimated...


Greek Crisis Cuts Bribe Demands Too

Greek Crisis Cuts Bribe Demands Too
Greek Reporter
bribery Greece's crushing economic crisis is so bad that even the corrupt are asking for smaller bribes. The percentage of Greek households asked to make payoffs fell for a fourth year as austerity limited Greeks' ability to pay, according to a survey ...


Golden Dawn Seeks Death For Violent Migrants

Greek Reporter

Golden Dawn Seeks Death For Violent Migrants
Greek Reporter
Golden Dawn Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that has 18 seats in Parliament and has an openly anti-immigrant agenda is calling for restoration of the death penalty – for immigrants found guilty of violent crimes, although it didn't distinguish if ...


Anastasiades Wants Greek Bailout Too

Anastasiades Wants Greek Bailout Too
Greek Reporter
Awaiting a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) rescue package from international lenders, new Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was in Athens on March 31 looking for another two billion euros ($2.6 billion) in aid despite Greece's crushing economic ...


Diaspora Report 2013: Jews of Greece versus Neo-Nazis

Diaspora Report 2013: Jews of Greece versus Neo-Nazis
When money is tight, they blame the Jew. The Jewish community of Thessaloniki is certainly feeling the recession, as they warily eye the Neo-Nazi party, which has won seats in Parliament. 'Greece is our home, but we do not feel safe here.' A report on ...

and more »


The First Car Accident in Greece

Greek Reporter

The First Car Accident in Greece
Greek Reporter
The First Car Accident in Greece The first car accident officially recorded in Greece occurred on Sunday, March 4, 1907, at about 11.30 in the morning, on the Syggrou avenue past Hadrian's Gate at the height of the FIX brewery plant and was a fatal one ...


Greek gov't spokesman condemns second attack on brother's home in two months

Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou strongly condemned on Friday the second fire bomb attack on his brother's home in Athens in two months.


Germans greet Cyprus deal with a mixture of relief and fear

Angela Merkel is beset by anger abroad and mistrust at home – and there's an election looming

Angela Merkel referred to it as "successful", not least because it had, she said, "managed a fair distribution of the burden" on both creditors and depositors.

But while the deal to secure a financial lifeline to Cyprus after months of tortuous negotiations between Nicosia and the eurozone was met with relief, comfort and not a small amount of praise from both left and right in Berlin, there was also a considerable amount of scepticism. From the straight-thinking German point of view it had been a small victory in the battle to keep profligate southern Europe in check, and German voters on board.

As finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble put it: "Germany has managed to have its concerns met, both in the interests of Europe and the German taxpayer."

But the terms of the bailout also sent shivers down plenty of spines, including those of many voters who still fear that, despite the strength of the German economy, the euro crisis could still land on their doorsteps.

"If everybody starts to think their money is unsafe, we'll get a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the banks will go under," said Thomas Schuster from the Cologne Institute for Economic Research. "So trust is paramount."

Architects of the deal have been quick to point out that the Cyprus bailout – or bail-in, as many are calling it – will not and cannot become the template for other troubled eurozone nations.

But economics commentator Philip Faigle, writing in Die Zeit, disagreed: "The taboo has been broken. For the first time in the euro crisis, savers have been expropriated."

But as the blame for draconian economic reforms in Dublin, Madrid, Athens, Lisbon and Nicosia is increasingly heaped at Merkel's door, the German government's reaction has been not to relax its stance, but to tighten it. It has been especially keen to show that it is practising what it preaches at home. A case of "do as we say and do as we do," as one television commentator put it.

Just two days before EU leaders gathered in Brussels earlier this month to argue exactly how much economic reform the south should be forced to swallow, the German cabinet approved key figures in its own federal budget. As if to underline the German government's tough attitude to countries living beyond their means, it foresaw some rigorous fiscal belt-tightening, including public sector wage freezes and the lowest new borrowing levels for 40 years.

Such moves enable Merkel to go to Brussels and say: "You, too, can save." It also wins her plaudits at home among credit-shy consumers, who have so far welcomed her austerity drives. Such domestic support is particularly welcome to Merkel with an election looming.

But the political mood in Germany post-Cyprus is noticeably more defensive. Deeply angered by the portrayals in Nicosia of Merkel as an SS guard, or sporting a Hitler moustache, and by an article in Spain's El Pais comparing her to Hitler, leading German politicians began to speak out last week about the unfair treatment they feel they have been receiving from fellow EU partners.

"Germany is showing solidarity," said the justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who went on to urge fellow EU leaders to take their fair share of the responsibility for the unpopular bailout conditions – blame, she said, Germany had so far largely had to shoulder alone.

It is often said that Germany can appear a little gauche and inexperienced on the diplomatic front. There have also been widespread accusations that the German government has failed to communicate its crisis strategy properly either at home or abroad.

This may be why Merkel took the unusual step last week of dispatching a goodwill ambassador to Greece in order to restore her dilapidated image. Otto Rehhagel, the German football coach seen as a hero in Greece after he led its national side to victory in the 2004 European Championships, is on a charm offensive in the region.

"We have to help countries which are down on their luck," the 74-year-old said in an interview. "But it wasn't my chancellor who created this crisis."

Although her popularity rating in Germany is still an impressive 68%, Merkel may also be forced into a reassurance offensive closer to home after 54% of Germans said last week that they did not believe her assurance, post-Cyprus, that savings were safe. One in three said their trust in the common currency had been shattered and that they would like to see the return of the deutschmark.

There is anecdotal evidence that some Germans have begun removing their savings from banks, and that others have opened new accounts to spread their savings around and avoid getting caught like Cypriot depositors with more than €100,000. Financial daily Börsen Zeitung commented that while Germans – still collectively haunted by the currency collapses experienced by their forefathers – were not necessarily planning a run on the bank with their feet, "they are already doing it in their heads". © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Migrants protest Greek xenophobic bill

Press TV

Migrants protest Greek xenophobic bill
Press TV
Thousands of legal migrants, foreign nationals and community leaders, Greek citizens and workers have rallied in Athens against a law that threatens theirs and their children's future. Over the last four months, the Greek government has been pushing ...


EU, IMF resisting Greek bank NBG's takeover of Eurobank: sources

A woman makes a transaction at an ATM machine outside a Eurobank branch in central AthensBy George Georgiopoulos ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's international lenders have asked Athens to halt National Bank's takeover of rival Eurobank, worried that the resulting lender would be too big for the state to deal with, two bankers close to the talks told Reuters on Saturday. The lenders' concerns come as an unexpected twist in the takeover deal, which was launched in October and completed with a share swap. The two banks have already begun integrating operations after getting approval by authorities. National Bank, Greece's biggest lender, took over 84. ...