Berlin rejects Athens' bailout request
Germany has rejected Greece's request for an extension of the bailout programme. The letter from Athens does not provide a substantial solution, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble let it be known on Thursday. This rebuff is not surprising given that the Greek government leaves itself the option of not honouring its reform agreements, some commentators write. Others call on Berlin to make compromises.
Schäubles reads Athens the riot act
The conservative daily Die Welt takes Wolfgang Schäuble's no to Greece's request as an opportunity to assess his overall conduct in the confrontation with Athens: "Even Schäuble, a man known for his dry objectivity, seems to be running out of patience now. He has gone through weeks of wrangling between the EU and Athens with the mandate to reach a solution that allows the Greeks to save face as best they can but doesn't make them look like the victors lest others in Europe are encouraged to copy them. Yes, Wolfgang Schäuble is an extremely bureaucratic politician. But is that so bad? He's a sophisticated old hand, a purist who defends the interests of the German taxpayer and by extension of all Europe, and he has fared well with his fairness so far. ... Let's see the finance minister's statement as a wake-up call. None of his colleagues would have dared to do such a thing. This is precisely the kind of language Athens understands."
Greece fails with bogus claims
The Greek government was trying to fool the Euro Group with its formal request so it shouldn't be surprised by the firm rebuff from Germany, writes the liberal business paper Wirtschaftsblatt: "Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis sends a letter to the Euro Group in which he backs down, requests the extension of the bailout programme and recognises supervision by the troika. Meanwhile in Athens his head of government Alexis Tsipras is declaring an end to the austerity policy and that he rejects the terms of the bailout programme. So the Greek leaders needn't be surprised that the German government has made it clear that it expects Greece to stick to the agreed terms. Berlin used harsh words, but that was because it wanted to make sure that Varoufakis und Tsipras finally understand the full gravity of the situation."
Berlin must make compromises
The liberal online portal To Vima criticises the way in which German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has rejected Greece's request and calls on Berlin to show a willingness for compromise: "Germany plays an important role, but that doesn't mean the German leaders' views must be imposed always and everywhere. That's all the more true since it seems the German leadership does not unanimously back Schäuble's intentions to punish Greece. It's the task of all the other members in the Euro Group to help bring about the necessary compromise. The Greek government has taken an important step by distancing itself from its earlier positions. Europe can and should take a step backwards in the interest of all of its citizens."
Greeks not solely to blame for the crisis
Greece isn't solely responsible for the euro crisis, the liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat contends: "Greece's proposal for an extension of the bailout programme is a reasonable compromise. ... Germany's position is unjustified because Greece has already foregone so much. ... Greece is being asked to implement a financial policy that contradicts the most basic economic theories. That was perhaps understandable at the start of the crisis, but in the past five years very little has been done to correct structural flaws with the euro and promote growth. Germany is behaving as if Greece was solely responsible for the crisis. Of course it does bear a large responsibility, but others will be to blame if the euro countries reject Greece's proposal on Friday."
Wrangling over austerity helps Europe's economy
The struggle between Greece and its EU partners is weakening the euro and that's just what the Eurozone needs, the conservative daily the Evening Herald writes: "Grexit, or more likely a fudge followed by continuing uncertainty, is just what the doctor ordered to keep the euro weak on the foreign exchange markets and prevent the Eurozone from slipping into outright deflation - something that would further exacerbate the European economic crisis. So the new Greek government may succeed in doing what the ECB has failed to do - force down the value of the euro and push up Eurozone inflation as dearer imports from outside the single currency zone push up prices in euro. This is exactly what the Eurozone economy desperately needs if it is ever to emerge from its post-2007 slump."