‘Europe is Pouring Money Into a Bottomless Barrel’

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
By Paul Martin

Der Speigel
02/27/2012

A German minister has broken with the official government line by saying Greece should be encouraged to quit the euro. The comment, made to SPIEGEL, comes ahead of Monday’s parliamentary vote on the second bailout. Some newspapers, including the tabloid Bild, agree that it’s time for Greece to leave.

Monday’s German parliamentary vote on the second bailout package for Greece has been overshadowed by a rift within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition about the wisdom of granting fresh aid, with Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich saying Greece should be encouraged to leave the euro.

In an interview with SPIEGEL published on Monday, Friedrich said: “Greece’s chances to regenerate itself and become competitive are surely greater outside the monetary union than if it remains in the euro area.” He added that he did not support a forced exit. “I’m not talking about throwing Greece out, but rather about creating incentives for an exit that they can’t pass up.” It was the first time a member of the German government called on Greece to leave the currency.
An opinion poll published in Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday showed a majority of Germans agrees with Friedrich, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union.

According to the survey conducted by pollster Emnid, 62 percent said they wanted parliament to vote “no” on Monday afternoon. Only 33 percent were in favor. Almost two-thirds said they were convinced that Greece can’t be rescued from state bankruptcy. The parliament is all but certain to back the €130 billion ($175 billion) package because the opposition Social Democrats and Greens have said they will side with the coalition and vote in favor of the aid.

Friedrich’s comment brought him criticism from his coalition partners as well as the opposition.

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