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BERLIN/ATHENS/WARSAW | | griechenlandpolen

BERLIN/ATHENS/WARSAW (Own report) - In reference to Greece and Poland's new demands for reparations for Germany's World War II mass crimes, the German government has reconfirmed its blockade on compensations. Berlin maintains that there are no legal grounds for Athens and Warsaw's demands. No reparations will be paid. A parliamentary commission in Greece has estimated that the material damages inflicted during German occupation between 1941 and 1944, amount to €288 billion. The Polish parliament has estimated the destruction caused by the reign of terror during Nazi occupation is at €840 billion. Athens intends to take initial steps before the end of the year to force German government compliance. Germany, in fact, has successfully avoided honoring any of the compensation claims, by using legal finesse and political pressure. At the same time, German authorities are participating in unofficial memorial ceremonies for the victims of the Nazi reign of terror, ostentatiously begging "forgiveness" from the victims - free of charge. more…

PARIS/BERLIN | | frankreich

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - The European Intervention Initiative (Initiative européenne d'intervention, IEI) initiated by Paris and supported by Berlin, will begin work this week. Representatives of the ten participating states took this decision in the French capital, yesterday. France's President Emmanuel Macron promoted the IEI, aimed at rapid deployment capability, in search of gaining support for his country's over-stretched armed forces. So far, Berlin has been applying the brakes. The German government is focused on systematically merging European troops, for example, within the framework of the EU's "PESCO" projects and integrating European arms industries with the help of subsidies from the EU Defense Fund. In the future EU budget, the EU Defense Fund is to be increased thirty-fold, to more than €17 billion. Despite all the dissention, Berlin (with PESCO) and Paris (with IEI) are both seeking to establish a European armed forces, which can be deployed on a global scale, independent of the USA. more…

BERLIN/TEHRAN | | iranusa

BERLIN/TEHRAN (Own report) - New US sanctions against Iran have come into effect, without the slightest sign of success for the opposition to the US Middle East policy that had been so loudly proclaimed by Berlin and the EU. Berlin had affirmed, it would do everything in its power to secure for EU companies - particularly German - business deals with Iran, thereby safeguard the nuclear agreement while strengthening the standing of German/EU industry in Iran. The latter has completely failed. German business representatives are warning of the "danger" that German business with Iran "could come to a complete halt." If this development continues, China - which during the first round of sanctions, had already become Iran's main trading partner - could further enhance its position in Iran, particularly due to continued oil purchases from Tehran. Contrary to its announcement, the Trump administration did not succeed in entirely cutting off Iranian oil exports. Today, Iran is selling more oil than during the previous round of sanctions. more…

BERLIN/BEIJING/WASHINGTON | | usachina

BERLIN/BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Leading German business circles are calling for diminishing economic dependence on China. Even though that country is a "dynamic market" - German companies' largest trading partner and their third largest investment site - it is in a "system rivalry" with the West, according to a recent paper published by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The BDI is underlining the importance "of minimizing existing dependency" on the People's Republic of China, as Washington is stepping up its economic war against Beijing. German businesses fear that the Trump administration could impose sanctions - like those in the case of Iran - and are, therefore, calling for a gradual withdrawal from China. At a business conference, currently taking place in Jakarta, German business representatives and the Minster of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, are pursuing their search for alternative sites in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, a prominent US general has predicted that the United States could possibly be at war with China within 15 years. more…

BERLIN/BRASÍLIA | | brasilien

BERLIN/BRASÍLIA (Own report) - German business circles are placing high hopes on Brazil's President-elect Jair Messias Bolsonaro pointing to the economic program of Paulo Guedes, designated to head a super ministry. During Augustino Pinochet's military dictatorship, he was a professor at the University of Chile and his program resembles the economic policy of the Chilean Junta. Since about a year, Guedes has been Bolsonaro's advisor. The Brazilian business community is hailing Bolsonaro, particularly the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), where German businesses hold strong positions. CNI is the Brazilian partner of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). German companies had already cooperated with the Brazilian military dictatorship. Bolsonaro's victory is a deathblow to the policy of cautious redistribution in favor of impoverished segments of society, pursued by Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. This policy was essentially ended with the May 2016 cold putsch - under applause of German business representatives. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - In view of the conflict between Brussels and Rome over Italy's national budget, the German establishment is increasing its demands to resolutely fight the "internal enemies" of the EU. The Union must "now be vigorously defended," wrote a leading German daily. The Italian government coalition is "not worth risking the country's fate." The Italian government is being put into question, because it refuses to continue to submit to German austerity dictates. Berlin's dominance over the EU is also being met with mounting protests in other member countries. Poland and Hungary are not the only countries, where controversies are intensifying. Anger at Berlin is also growing in France. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the founder of "La France insoumise," who, with almost 20 percent, barely missed making the run-offs in the 2017 presidential elections, has now called for "France to withdraw from all EU treaties." The German elite's reaction is becoming more hostile. more…

ROME/BERLIN | | italien

ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - German politicians and media are intensifying pressure on Rome in anticipation of today's EU Commission verdict on Italy's national budget. Already last week, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger announced, in reference to the Italian deficit, that the Italian government must "correct" its draft budget. Media reports refer to a "black week" for Rome. Negative reporting - like rating agencies' devaluation of Italy's creditworthiness - can contribute to the destabilization of Italy's financial and credit markets. The country's current downward spiral threatens to re-escalate the banking crisis. Whereas Berlin insists that the EU take sharp measures against deficits, Germany's Finance Minister at the time, Wolfgang Schäuble had prevented the EU Commission from taking measures against excessive surpluses, which the commission sees as potentially just as destabilizing. Germany has been achieving these surpluses year after year. more…

LONDON/BRUSSELS/BERLIN | | grossbritannien

LONDON/BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Own report) - The EU's heads of states and governments were again unable to make progress in the Brexit negotiations last Wednesday, provoking strong criticism from the German business community. Their only proposal was to prolong the transitional period another year, which is out of the question for London, because this would cost the UK additional billions of pounds. The EU is "too inflexible" in the Brexit negotiations, criticized the head economist of Commerzbank. It is a "stickler for principles," even though it has itself "stretched the rules to the point of becoming unrecognizable" - such as those of the currency union. Commentaries assume that Brussels seeks to set a deterrent example. The EU sees itself "too unattractive," to be able to prevent other countries from leaving by other means. At the same time, Brussels is running the risk of the Brexit negotiations collapsing, which would cause serious losses, particularly to German industry. Experts do not rule out German export losses in the double-digit billions. more…