German politicians from across all political parties in the Bundestag have reacted angrily to warnings by Italy’s Mario Monti that German control over EU debt policies threatens to bring about the breakdown of the Eurozone.
“We must make it clear to Mr Monti that we Germans will not shut down our democracy to pay Italian debts,” said Alexander Dobrindt, secretary-general of Bavaria’s Social Christians (CSU).
Bundestag president Norbert Lammert said Italy’s unelected prime minister is playing with political fire by trying to circumvent democratic legitimacy.
The dispute comes as relations between Germany and Italy touch the lowest ebb since the Second World War, with Il Giornale publishing a front-page picture of Chancellor Angela Merkel under the headline “Fourth Reich”.
“The tone of the debate has turned dangerous. We must be careful that Europe does not rip itself apart,” said German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle. He stated that he was “categorically” against further expansion of the EU rescue machinery or bond purchases by the European Central Bank. “I can’t imagine that a majority of the Bundestag will back unlimited debt liabilities,” he said.
The outburst leaves it unclear whether Germany will agree to activate the eurozone rescue fund (EFSF) on acceptable terms if Spain and Italy request bail-outs, the political trigger needed for ECB bond purchases under the “Draghi Plan”. Mrs Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble back ECB action but could face a revolt within her coalition as a result.
An Italian newspaper owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has caused controversy by printing a front page headline which said ‘Fourth Reich’ above a picture of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
The picture in newspaper Il Giornale also showed Chancellor Merkel raising her right arm in salute, a gesture associated with the Nazi salute used by Hitler’s followers. The article, which was published on Friday, has heightened a bitter war of words between Italy and Germany over the handling of the ongoing Euro crisis.
The picture in newspaper Il Giornale – owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, showed Chancellor Merkel raising her right arm in a “salute”, a gesture more associated with Hitler’s followers, according to the Italians. To me this is more like a hand raised in agreeance to a decision or motion, or even a wave at a another person. A salute? No!
From my limited knowledge of Italian, the emotive headline reads this way:
“The no of Merkel and Germany will bring us and Europe to it’s knees. Their oversight is dumb: They did not understand Draghi.
“The Crisis seen by Berlin”
“The Germans saviours of the Euro? Italy spends more on macaroni!”
The angry article attacked tough talking Chancellor Merkel saying that her uncompromising position had brought ‘us and Europe to its knees’ adding that ‘Italy is no longer in Europe but in the Fourth Reich.’
It went on to say: “In the First Reich, Germany wanted the title Emperor of Rome and in the next two they used their might against the states of Europe, with two world wars and millions of dead, but this was not enough to quieten German egomania. Once again it has surfaced, but this time not with the use of cannon, this time it’s their control of the Euro.”
‘The Germans believe the Euro is theirs and we have to submit, surrender, hand ourselves over to the new Kaiser Angela Merkel who wants to rule our house.’
It is not the first time that Il Giornale has been at the centre of controversy with Germany – two months ago after Italy beat Germany in the Euro 2012 semi final, they printed a picture of Chancellor Merkel below the headline: ‘Ciao, ciao culona’ which when translated means “Bye bye lard arse.”
Germany has accused Italy over the mishandling of the ongoing Eurozone crisis and accusing Rome of not doing enough to get its finances in order to resolve the single currency problem which has been dragging on for two years. The Italians, much like the Greeks, have become accustomed to a certain life style often referred to as La dolce vita (the sweet/good life), and thus openly resent German “interference” in the Italian lifestyle and economy. They would overtly resist any impostion of austerity measures in a similar way to the Greeks. In this author’s opinion, the German economy is one of the few in Europe with strength and robustness. The Germans can rightly feel that they are supporting the rest of Europe. Will it result in the disintegration of the Eurozone? That is unlikely, but it remains to be seen.
Source: Il Giornale