Greece is eagerly awaiting to learn the plans of the new German government, after the three parties announced their agreement on a governing coalition on Wednesday.
The three parties — the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the environmentalist Greens, and the business-focused Free Democrats (FDP) — announced their plan at a press conference in Berlin.
Priorities of the new German government are “welfare with climate protection,” promised Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck.
FDP leader Christian Lindner spoke of “a will and desire for change” in Germany, according to Deutsche Welle.
SPD leader Olaf Scholz, who is expected to take over as chancellor, said the three parties reached a deal to form a new government that will end the Merkel era.
Greece has been waiting for a change of course of the German government as the majority of Greeks have been disgruntled over Angela Merkel’s policies.
End of Merkel era
A Pew Research Study from September 2021 showed that Greeks have negative views on Merkel and Germany, unlike citizens in most EU countries.
The Greeks’ negative attitude towards Merkel and Germany is mainly due to Germany’s handling of Greece’s economic crisis.
A large number of Greeks believe that the strict austerity measures imposed for the country’s third bailout had been decided by Merkel and then finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Also, Greeks are disaffected with Merkel’s favoritism towards Turkey in regards to the country’s provocations in the eastern Mediterranean and capitalization of the migrant issue.
For instance, while Greece has often asked for EU sanctions against Turkey for the country’s violations of Greece’s and Cyprus’ sovereign rights, many Greeks believe that Merkel’s Germany turned a deaf ear.
German occupation and the culture of remembrance
Following the Greens’ insistence, the text of the three-party agreement included a reference to Greek-German relations regarding the German Occupation during the II World War.
In the chapter that interests Greece, the new German government is committed to keeping alive the memory of historical events of the past, such as the German occupation.
As the Greens indicate, the culture of remembrance is contributing to the good of the Republic and the common European future.
Specifically, in the text, there is mention of National Socialism, the Holocaust, the socialist regime in former East Germany and the history of immigration to Germany.
“We feel a special responsibility, especially to our European neighbors. But the current debate in Greece or Ukraine also shows that the joint elaboration has not been completed.
“We support the Bundestag decisions on a Documentation Center on “World War II and German Occupation in Europe” and a memorial to the victims of the Polish occupation and the adventurous German-Polish history.
“We want to officially recognize the victims of ‘euthanasia murders’ and forced sterilization as victims of National Socialism,” the program agreement said.
The wording does not indicate that the new German government is willing to negotiate reparations and redress. However, it is acknowledged that the German Occupation remains an open issue.
The new German government and Turkey
In regards to Turkey and its relations with Germany and the EU overall, the agreement emphasizes that “despite worrying developments at home and foreign policy tensions, it (Turkey) remains an important EU neighbor and partner in NATO.”
However, given that “democracy, the rule of law as well as human rights and the rights of women and minorities have been severely curtailed.”
In that respect, the EU accession negotiations with Turkey are not about “closing a chapter or opening a new one,” the agreement of the three governing parties says.