Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos yesterday condemned German press reports on Greece’s financial crisis that he said “surpassed all limits” and invited Germany’s ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Schultheiss, to discuss the “offensive” coverage.
Petsalnikos was responding to two articles – one in Stern magazine in the form of an open letter to Greeks from disgruntled German taxpayers, which also appeared in the February 19 issue of Athens Plus, and the other featured in an issue of Focus magazine whose front page depicts a statue of the Venus de Milo making an obscene gesture under the title “Greek cheats.” The House speaker condemned the two reports as “anything but objective” and containing “inaccuracies and false information.”
Petsalnikos accused Stern of offering an “oversimplified and populist take” on Greece’s financial crisis by lambasting Greeks for frittering away German taxpayers’ savings. In a letter sent to the magazine, Petsalnikos argued that Germany too had reaped benefits from European Union membership, stressing also that it was Greece’s main arms supplier. He noted that Germany was one of the countries that benefited most from EU membership, with more than 60 percent of its exports going to member states in 2007.
The provocative German press reports, and in particular the manipulated depiction of the Venus de Milo, prompted more angry comments from Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. The mayor urged “men of culture across the world to protest” against the “shameful” front-page cover. He also called on Germany to pay Greece reparations for losses suffered by the country during World War II. “You owe us 70 billion euros for the ruins you left behind,” he said.
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