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article imageGerman leader and public want Greece out of euro zone

By Larry Clifton     May 26, 2012 in Politics
German public opinion has shifted solidly against Greece remaining in the euro zone and the country's leaders are split on whether to continue funding Greek rescue efforts.
Greece is mired in massive debt and reduced to operating its heavily subsidized economy through emergency loan agreements or rescue efforts from other European countries as global economies look on. The country may be forced to wean off socialism despite strong advances of the Socialist Party during May 6 national elections.
Meanwhile, public and political patience has worn very thin in Germany, Europe's largest economy and the biggest contributor to Greece's economic rescue.
"We're not willing to pour money into a bottomless pit," Germany’s Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, told the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper on Saturday. Friedrich is the first German minister to openly call for the Greece to leave the euro zone.
"Anyone who wants to see help and solidarity from us has to accept that we expect from that country a certain amount of seriousness and a certain amount of reasonableness."
As for Germany’s private sector, Friday, Juergen Fitschen, the designated co-chief executive of Germany's largest commercial bank, Deutsche Bank, was quoted in Internet versions of German newspapers calling Greece a "failed state."
While Greece’s socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos, during his campaign, promised no new taxes or across-the-board wage and pension cuts if his party, PASOK, participates in a coalition government, the former prime minister failed to form a coalition and now all bets are off. The Greek government has been virtually paralyzed after a splintering election and a new election shows little promise of change.
To date, Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Union leaders still say they wish to keep Greece in the euro zone. But sources told Reuters the Eurogroup Working Group - experts who work for the bloc's finance ministers - have told member states to prepare contingency plans for a Greece exit.
Polls show German public opinion about Greece has turned against bailouts and Germans are against Greece remaining in the euro zone. A Politbarometer poll by ZDF TV published on Friday showed only 31 percent want Greece to stay with 60 percent opposed. In a similar ZDF poll in November, 41 percent wanted Greece to stay and 49 percent wanted to see it leave.
Friedrich, a leader in the arch-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said Greece made a mistake assuming joining the euro would give the country prosperity.
"(They) evidently believed wealth would be automatic if they got their hands on the euro," Friedrich said.
"A country needs a currency that matches its economic strength," he added.
On the other hand, Germany's Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass has condemed Europe for its treatment of Greece in a poem published on Saturday in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper called "Europe's Disgrace".
Greece was being disparaged as a country "below junk value", he wrote, and added it was "close to chaos because you're not fit for the markets".
He said Greece was being "abandoned as a naked debtor in the dock, a country suffers ... and is condemned to poverty."
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