Germany: The ruler of ‘New Europe’ – would it qualify?
I wondered at first why the EU hastily admitted in 2004 ten new members, most of which were not really ready for it. Even more, because by that time shaping the European Constitution was under discussion. In other words, the pursuit of convergence and in-depth integration within the European Union was abruptly substituted by rapid expansion without sufficient maturity of the issue. EU member countries from 17 became suddenly 27 and soon 28 with pending Croatia; and other candidates are to join. The smaller and weaker the member states are, the stronger the role and influence of the few large and powerful ones. Shortly after, the European Constitution was set aside, especially after the rejecting referendums in France and Holland in 2005. And with the ensuing crisis, everything turned upside down. What we experienced from 2004 onwards – with the synergy of the Euro – is that instead of convergence we get increasing disparities. Instead of using the EU institutions, member states address directly to Berlin. And, in order to avoid a chaotic pluralism, instead of democratic processes within the EU, small countries are sprained in the backstage. In other words, long respected European values are put aside and the law of the strongest prevails. One wonders: when the ‘Franco-German Axis’ hastily decided to expand the EU instead of integrating it, were they not aware of the consequences? Or perhaps what they really sought was the dominance of the few powerful countries over the weaker ones. At the Yalta Conference (1945) regions of the world were informally separated into zones of influence between the US, USSR and Britain. Before long, Britain lost its colonies, ceased to be a strong ‘player’ and the struggle was confined between the US and the USSR. With the fall of the USSR things changed dramatically. Germany was reunited. It was about then that the US launched globalization, with the confidence that this would secure their monopoly of economic power. And Europe naively consented! But since then the world became very different. New major players have emerged (China, India, Brazil) who claim (and partly already received) as big a share for themselves as it gets. Today, wars between developed countries are out of fashion. Instead, actions of big business took their place in controlling the weaker through indebtedness. As it happened with us in Greece, where the role of a guinea pig was unfortunately imposed to test such default policies. Oversimplifying, as first class world players one can rate the US and China. As second class ones Russia, Germany and Japan. And a third category could include France, Britain and countries like India and Brazil. Turkey aspires to join the third category. Germany and the South It is interesting to note that the EU cannot claim a share as a single unity, as lacking sufficient convergence and in-depth integration. So it is only reunified Germany who can be considered a serious player within a globalised world. However, it has been repeatedly quoted that Germany may be large enough to lead Europe but it is too small for becoming a first class power. Germany is aware of this and probably seeks to safeguard at least what it considers to be ‘its own territory’ – the EU, i.e. it strives not to lose control over European countries, but rather to expand this control in width and in depth on Germany’s own terms. If this assumption is true, it may provide plausible explanations for such issues as:
* The sudden and hasty enlargement of 2004 and numerous other candidate countries in queue.
* The extension of the EU in its own right, even by admitting countries that do not meet requirements for future convergence.
* The ‘exclusion’ of massive and ‘untamed’ Turkey
. * The ‘retaining’ of Greece within the Euro zone (through the Euro control is more effective)
. * The ‘grouping’ of the EU member states into Northern and Southern ones (the South to play an auxiliary role).
* The persistence of Germany in a strong Euro and in the non-issuance of new money by the European Central Bank.
* And, given Europe’s lack of raw materials and energy, the late interest shown by France and Germany for Greece’s mineral wealth, which, however, is also claimed by others outside EU. In view of the above, the South and especially Greece are in the eye of the storm.
All about corruption and disorder in Greece is certainly valid and should be corrected. But I speculate that they are not the sole causes of the pillory and pressures that we Greek people receive from the Germans, because our situation was known to them for many years, not to say that they fostered it partly themselves. And the fact remains that Germany benefited decisively from the write-off of half of its debt in 1953 and by the acceptance of its creditors to be repaid in kind, while she still refuses pusillanimously to return to Greece the Greek State owned gold confiscated in 1942 and to pay off outstanding war reparations. Germany’s attitude towards the South seems largely paternalistic and punitive, while it believes that any preferential treatment of Greece would raise similar claims from other troubled countries.