The First Defeat

ATHENS/BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) – Germany’s imposition of its austerity policy suffered a first serious defeat in yesterday’s Greek referendum. Over 61 percent of the Greek voters rejected an agreement with the creditors that would have provided for a continuation of the German austerity measures. This defeat is all the more serious for Berlin, because German politicians had massively interfered in the Greek referendum debate. The decision whether there will be new negotiations – and if so, under what conditions – must now be taken. Whereas many Greeks celebrated the rejection of the austerity dictate yesterday evening, German politicians declared that it is “difficult to imagine” new negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Tsipras (the German Minister of the Economy, Sigmar Gabriel). Greece is heading toward a Grexit and a “humanitarian catastrophe” (Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament). Paris however is risking conflict with Berlin. Yesterday evening, the governing Parti Socialiste (PS) took a clear stand “against the austerity measures,” which has “shriveled Greece’s Gross Domestic Product and driven a large number of Greeks into poverty.” Today’s meeting between the German chancellor and the French president may produce the first decisions.

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A Controlled Gaffe

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) – Paris has strongly reacted to Germany’s new attempts to impose its austerity dictate on the French national budget. Following the German government’s massive interventions in Brussels, German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger called the French government a “recidivist” in a newspaper column last Friday – because it does not accept the full extent of Germany’s austerity dictates. This is an “uncontrolled gaffe,” said the General Secretary of the ruling French Socialist Party (PS) and called on Oettinger to resign. To impose more massive budget cuts, Berlin continues its efforts to torpedo the budget compromise reached by the French government with the EU Commission in late October. Since months, observers have been warning against a deflationary spiral and strong social protests in France. The EU Commission’s position statement on France’s budget, scheduled for today, may have to be postponed because of German interventions.

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