World Economy

Germans Want Greece to Exit Euro, Gov’t Says Otherwise

Germans Want Greece to Exit Euro, Gov’t Says OtherwiseGermans Want Greece to Exit Euro, Gov’t Says Otherwise

Berlin cabdriver Jens Mueller says he’s had it with the Greek government and he doesn’t want Germany to send any more of his tax money to be squandered in Athens.

“They’ve got a lot of hubris and arrogance, being in the situation they’re in and making all these demands,” said Mueller, 49, waiting for fares near the Brandenburg Gate. “Maybe it’s better for Greece to just leave the euro,” Bloomberg reported.

Mueller’s sentiment is shared by a majority of Germans. A poll published March 13 by public broadcaster ZDF found 52 percent of his countrymen no longer want Greece to remain in Europe’s common currency, up from 41 percent last month. The shift is due to a view held by 80 percent of Germans that Greece’s government “isn’t behaving seriously toward its European partners.”

The hardening of German opinion is significant because the country is the biggest contributor to Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($252 billion) twin bailouts and the chief proponent of budget cuts and reforms in return for aid. Tensions have been escalating between the two governments since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took office in January, promising to end an austerity drive that he blames on Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The shift in sentiment comes as Greece, at risk of running out of cash this month, battles with European officials over the release of more bailout funds. Tsipras has also stepped up calls for war reparations from Germany for the Nazi occupation during World War II and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has been locked in a war of words with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble. Last week, the Greek government officially complained about Schaeuble’s conduct, to which Schaeuble replied that the whole matter was “absurd.”

 Greece Should Remain

German government spokesman said: “We still want Greece in the eurozone.”

Steffen Seibert told a press conference in Berlin: “We continue to pursue the political goal – and there are no differences there between the finance ministry and the chancellor on this – to keep Greece in the eurozone and the German government has worked towards that since the start of the crisis and this work is continuing.”

That follows finance minister Wolfgang Schauble’s claim on Friday that Greece could leave the eurozone by accident.

That sparked several reports that Germany had lost patience with Greece over its debt crisis; something Seibert was also forced to deny on Friday. Seibert told reporters that Angela Merkel and the finance ministry have a “shared goal” of keeping Greece in the eurozone.

 IMF Payment

The Greek government has handed over the €580m ($610m) due to the International Monetary Fund Sunday, according to a Bloomberg report.

That means Greece has cleared most of the money owed to the IMF this month, but still faces another €350m bill on Friday.