This time, German Chancellor Angela’“Dominatrix’ Merkel came to Athens without facing protests, as she did in 2012 when furious Greeks were kept far away from her so they couldn’t vent their anger over her insistence on harsh austerity measures being put on them.
That was in 2012 when Greece was in the midst of getting three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($378 billion) from a combination of the Troika: The European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank.
That was to prop up an economy brought down by years of wild overspending and runaway patronage by a succession of center-left and center-right governments who were centered on blowing every drachma and then every euro they could for their own benefit.
It was German banks who put up a lot of the moolah and she wanted to make sure they were going to be repaid so you can forget the drivel about wanting to save Greece and keep Greece in the Eurozone because her only interest was those banks, not Greeks who suffer – and still are – over big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.
Merkel came to Athens in October, 2012, guarded by a phalanx of cops that the 300 Spartans wouldn’t tackle and the protests roared, but out of sight and sound because Greeks were kept far, far away.
That was six months after pensioner Dimitris Christoulas committed suicide in Syntagma Square, across from the Parliament, a retired pharmacist who couldn’t pay for his own medications because of the Merkel Austerity.
He was 77 and shot himself in the head under a tree where today people walk by not knowing what happened. He wrote that, “The Tsolakoglou (The collaborationist occupation government established after the Nazi Germany invasion of Greece during World War II) government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.”
He added, hopelessly, that, “I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.”
Merkel didn’t visit that spot, nor did her henchman, then-finance chief Wolfgang ‘Schadenfreude’ Schaeuble, a cold-blooded being who you could imagine being played by Peter Sellers doing another version of his Dr. Strangelove character, chortling over the misery of Greeks.
“As Europe’s largest contributor to the bailout fund that has rescued Greece from bankruptcy, Germany is viewed by many Greeks as the primary enforcer of the austerity measures,” The Associated Press wrote of her 2012 visit to meet then-premier and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.
There were some 7,000 Greek police to protect her from demonstrators, some carrying Nazi flags and denouncing what they called The Fourth Reich and waving swastikas she didn’t see.
It was eerie and uncomfortable because the heart of Athens is where the Nazi occupation set up in grand hotels and brought atrocities to the country, still remembered by those who survived them.
Her visit lasted six hours, longer than this time when she stopped to see Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis who couldn’t decide whether to kiss her or throw brickbats.
Their parties both belong to the center-right European People’s Party and now that she’s leaving office Mitsotakis thought it wise not to be too critical and didn’t mention she blocked his call for sanctions against Turkish provocations – Germany is home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage.
It’s also a major arms supplier, including submarine components, to Turkey, which could be used against Greece in a conflict so if that Alas, Babylon event ever came to pass perhaps Mitsotakis wouldn’t be so forgiving for what she did to his country – well, to workers, pensioners, and the poor.
She can argue all she wants that what she did kept Greece in the Eurozone and saved the country from itself but the damage she did to people who didn’t deserve it, who didn’t run the country into ruin, is indelible and forever.
The bailouts didn’t work, as Greece’s debt still has hovered near 200 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 175 billion euros ($200 billion) and the bailouts will take decades to repay.
Why is it that when there’s a financial problem that the first answer is always to cut the pay of workers? Why didn’t Merkel, who had the clout, also demand that Greece’s essentially tax-free shipping oligarchs pay too?
She kept Samaras in line and did the same to then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA leader and Premier Alexis Tsipras in 2015 when he said he wouldn’t go along with austerity as part of a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($100 billion) but caved like a cheap tent when she squeezed him.
“We were all extremely shocked at how vulnerable the euro was to external pressures… and this hit the countries with the highest debt and which did not implement significantly, on the level of reforms, everything they should have implemented,” she added, said Kathimerini.
Mitsotakis said that, “Merkel was the voice of reason and stability. Sometimes unfair, but decisive, as she was in 2015, when she rejected the expulsion of Greece from Europe,” he stressed.
Tell that to Dimitris Christoulas. Oh wait, you can’t because he’s still dead.