Le Monde | • Updated | By
Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, would he oust Greece off the euro area? Thursday, February 19, its extremely harsh reaction to the latest proposals of Athens, in any case shattered the unity of the euro zone leaders who had hitherto prevailed against Greece and forced the European Commission to the splits.
United facing the Russian President Vladimir Putin, France and Germany are divided face Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister. Sign of this tension before lunch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to be at the Elysee on Friday advisors president were willing to discuss the off, with the press, all subjects with the exception of one: Greece
While Friday was also to take place in the afternoon in Brussels, a council of ministers of euro zone finance for a compromise with Greece for a week. before the end of the current aid plan in Athens, the words of Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday, indicating that a “solution is possible and very quickly,” leave no doubt about the discrepancy between Paris and Berlin.
“Missing all practical measures”
More exactly between Paris and part of the German government. Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party has indeed distanced himself from his colleague Finance: a first since the start of the grand coalition in December 2013. Greece has in his “a huge step in accepting that there would be no program without using” . Certainly, according to Gabriel, the letter is not “sufficient” as “lacks any concrete measures” . Nevertheless, it “should be used as a starting point for negotiations” .
A few hours earlier on Thursday, Mr Schäuble had hit hard. Hardly the letter of the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was it known that the sentence fell. This letter contains “no proposal substantially solution” . She bears, according to him, as a bridge financing of six months and “does not match the criteria defined by the Eurogroup Monday” .
A reaction all more surprising than the day before, the spokesman of the Finance Minister explained that it was for experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to study the proposals of Athens and report to the Eurogroup.
According to our information, this reaction the Ministry of Finance is far from unanimous. Even the entourage of M me Merkel would be reserved. It has also been – as Mr Hollande – a telephone conversation with Mr. Tsipras Thursday night. In his letter, the Greek government had asked for a “extension” the loan program in progress, although he had long demanded a new “bridging agreement” four six months. Athens also accepts “supervision” of its creditors (European Commission, ECB and IMF), even if the Greeks do not want to hear the word “troika”.
Most importantly, it undertakes to “fully fund any new measures while refraining from any unilateral action that would undermine the budgetary targets, the economic recovery and financial stability” , while introducing “flexibility” to back on austerity.
“It’s a mutual trust problem”
Why Schäuble, profoundly European, he took the risk to ride in the front line against Athens? Finance minister gave part of the answer, Wednesday at a meeting with his Portuguese counterpart Maria Luís Albuquerque. “It’s not the rules that matter. It is confidence. This is not a problem Troika. It is a mutual trust problem. Whoever destroys mutual trust destroyed Europe “ the minister said. But Germany does not trust the duo of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
The alliance Syriza with a far-right party, its damage claims War in Berlin and finally caricatures comparing Schäuble a Nazi: this has infuriated the Germans. 52% consider the behavior of the two men “insulting”. Part of conservatives and some media such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung seem to want a Greek exit from the euro zone. Friday, the newspaper Bild thanks in the name of Germany Mr. Schäuble for firmness.
In fact the Ministry of Finance had already envisioned a Greek exit from the area euro in 2012. Today, it is even less inclined to make concessions to Mr. Tsipras that he has no desire that it can claim a success could only give a valuable shot inch to Podemos, the party of the Spanish radical left.
“The Greek government plays its game very badly”
In fact, Germany is supported by conservative governments in Spain and Portugal as well as Finland and the Baltic States. Thursday, Estonian Finance Minister Maris Lauri, broke a taboo by declaring that a possible Greek exit from the euro zone would “a low impact on the European currency” .
She said aloud what Germany thinks so low? Everyone in Berlin denies this hypothesis. But there are skeptics. And not just in Athens. For the economist Henrik Enderlein director Jacques Delors Institute in Berlin “is not in the interest of the German government to weaken the euro zone by pushing Greece to exit. A Greek exit would change the nature of the monetary union in depth. The problem is that the Greek government very badly playing his game. He can not create trust and has already isolated. That said, rejecting the Greek opening may close doors and runs the risk of accelerating capital flight that could end with a “grexident” , a Grexit by accident. “