Greeks in Athens rage against Germany, blaming Berlin for the tough terms their government accepted to secure an agreement to negotiate a third Greek bailout.
ATHENS, GREECE (JULY 13, 2015) (REUTERS) – Athenians vented their anger at Germany on Monday (July 13), saying they blamed Berlin for the terms of an agreement accepted by the Greek prime minister to keep the country afloat.
The accord reached at all-night talks in Brussels includes terms tougher than proposals Greeks overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum on July 5, and many on the busy shopping streets of Athens blamed Germany for the result.
“People have suffered for years. Germany’s being very tough, there’s no question about that,” 57-year-old Angeliki Skolaritou told Reuters TV.
“Their behaviour, their imperialist tendencies, the fact they’re offending us, they’re degrading us, all this indicates a hatred on their part. That’s becoming clear now. I think (Germany) is being hostile,” 62-year-old pensioner Sophia Tsotra said.
Newspapers laced the morning’s headlines with references to World War Two and railed against what they see as Berlin’s attempts to humiliate Greece as punishment for its resistance to another round of cuts.
“Germany’s stance was to be expected. Since the time of Bismarck Germany has one purpose, how to rule Europe one way or another. Two world wars have already shown that. The current financial battle with the rest of Europe also shows it,” history teacher Dionysis Drebelas said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Brussels she would not be drawn into historical comparisons journalists were making with the 1919 Versailles treaty that forced crushing reparations on Germany after World War One, with disastrous consequences.
German tourist Ronald Meinardus said he had spoken to Greeks about the damaging rift and country’s place in the European project.
“In the last years, Greece and Germany have grown so far apart that you have to talk about two different universes. It’s a very, very high price if you think about Europe and you believe in Europe, as I do, the Greeks are really shocked. They were expecting a lot. But when I now speak to Greeks, then the pure rage is quite clear,” he said.
Other tourists welcomed the deal.
“I think it was half expected that Germany was going to get its way, that was my impression, that they were going to get it, because for Athens to come out of the euro would have just been horrendous for them,” British tourist Sarah Butler said.
Although the country might have pulled back from the brink of financial meltdown, Greeks will have to endure more pain. Capital controls that limit daily withdrawals from bank accounts to just 60 euros are likely to remain in place for some time.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also faces a struggle to sell the agreement back home. He has days to quell dissent within his own ranks — probably by sacking hardliners — and ram reform laws through parliament.