The German parliament has opened debate on whether to re-establish formal debt negotiations with Greece.
In her opening speech ahead of the debate, Merkel recalled the election of Tsipras and his Syriza party in January on a wave of support after promising to end painful austerity measures forced upon Greece by creditors. Chancellor Merkel has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks for appearing too hard on Greece, and responsible for the continuation of austerity as a strategy to reduce Greece’s debt.
“A country cannot, through a new election, change European contracts. We are a community based on law,” the chancellor told the Bundestag.
Merkel said it was up to them to make sure “chaos and violence” did not return to Europe. No one can decide “against Greece,” she explained, but only “with Greece,” as it was a matter of “European solidarity”. She made it clear that the type of “time-out” suggested by Schäuble was not on the table.
Merkel criticized the Tsipras administration for not taking enough of its own responsibility for Greece ‘s problems, though she was careful to point out that it was not the current government that landed Athens in this situation. She called on her fellow parliamentarians to vote ‘Yes’ so that Germany could help Greece “come out stronger than it went in” to the eurozone crisis, and thanked Finance Minister Schäuble for his hard work in recent months to help negotiate a deal between Greece and the 18 other Eurogroup countries.
Gregor Gysi, leader of the Left party, on the other hand, had very different words for Schäuble – opening his comments with the accusation that the finance minister “wants to destroy the idea of Europe,” and that while he supported help for Greece, he found the current political attitude towards their fellow EU member “undemocratic and anti-social.”