The Brussels Agreement

BERLIN/ROME/PARIS | | griechenland

BERLIN/ROME/PARIS (Own report) - In several western and southern European countries, the agreement on Greece reached in Brussels signals a looming collapse of the continental post-war order and Germany's revival as an ostentatious dictatorial power. Whereas social-democratic observers do not exclude an attenuation of the contradictions, southern European conservative media are among those who speak of a revival of German hegemonic ambitions, which had largely determined or triggered the First and Second World Wars. The consequences of the French-Italian submission during negotiations in Brussels are generating those fears, because Paris had not succeeded to and Rome had not even seriously attempted to thwart the German dictates of sovereignty over Greece. Both, Italy and France are aware of the dangers of becoming the next victim of German financial dictatorship. They are competing for admission in a northern European core Europe, whose membership will be decided by Berlin, in the case of a possible collapse of the European Union. Current events are directly linked to German foreign policy endeavors in the 1990s and the territorial expansion of Germany's economic basis through the so-called reunification.

The Burden of History

Commentators of diverse political orientations speak of a revival of German hegemonic ambitions. In Italy, for example, following the negotiations in Brussels, the liberal "La Repubblica" carried the headline "Greece has its back to the wall" and noted, "the Eurogroup" is "in the hands of German hawks." Athens is confronted with "a series of dictates, one harsher then the other." "Hawks are triumphantly circling in the European skies," the article continues, "and impose an impossible ultimatum on Tsipras similar to the one Austria imposed on the Serbs, which triggered the First World War."[1] "The end of innocence has been reached, because everyone [in the EU, gfp.com] knows, without a doubt, who the real ring master is," the Italian conservative "Il Messaggero" wrote. "The real ring master is Germany." The paper continues, "Sedan is returning, when Germany trampled on France in 1870" - and later - "did not follow Bismarck's advice," not to make enemies, both in the West and the East at the same time. In fact, Germany made "enemies everywhere" after WW I, "Il Messaggero" recalled - except perhaps in northern Europe's "vassal states" or in the 1930s, temporarily Poland, "which, because of its own painful history, thought it could not act otherwise than direct its hatred toward the Russians." The commentator concluded, "the burden of history has returned and seems insurmountable."[2]

The Same Arrogance

Warnings, based on historical experience, can also be heard in France. "Germany wants to smash Greece by forcing it, under threat of the Grexit, to accept a deadly plan of total submission," Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the Parti de Gauche, twittered on the weekend.[3] On TV, he had already expressed himself in greater detail. “For the third time in history, the stubbornness of a German government is in the process of destroying Europe.” Of course, one cannot insinuate that today's Federal Republic of Germany is ideologically on the same level as its predecessor regime. Still Berlin displays "the same arrogance, the same blindness" as in earlier phases of its historical reign.[4]

Aggressive Financial Policy

However, the fact that Berlin had not begun only in 2015 to threaten with a further radicalization of its aggressive economic and financial policy has remained largely in the background. In fact, Current events are directly linked to German foreign policy endeavors in the 1990s and the territorial expansion of Germany's economic basis through the so-called reunification. According to a popular myth, the latter was bought by German Chancellor at the time, Helmut Kohl's consent to the introduction of the uniform EU currency - the Euro. In fact, Bonn had only consented to the common currency under the condition - as a contemporary observer of the event remembers - that "the rules governing the monetary union and the European central banking system be primarily oriented on the model of German rules and the German Federal Bank." "The Euro speaks German," declared the then German Minister of Finances, Theo Waigel in 1998.[5] Thanks to the Euro, with its specifically German patent, the Federal Republic of Germany has been able to take full advantage of its economic strength in relationship to the other countries in the Eurozone and drive many of them into a - debt inducing - excessive foreign trade deficit. In 2014, approximately 34.5 billion Euros flowed from France to Germany, and Greece was still transferring more than 3.2 billion Euros. The German austerity dictate, which ultimately insures the flow of currency into the Federal Republic of Germany, are a result of the German patent on the Euro, imposed back in the 1990s.

Core Europe

In the 1990s, Wolfgang Schäuble, who, today, administers the austerity dictate as German Minister of Finances, had also played a role in creating the German power base, which has permitted Berlin's consistent clean sweep. In the early 1980s, as Chair of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), Schäuble had organized the first economic initiatives not only toward France. Theodor Veiter [6] a former Nazi specialist for border subversion was one of Schäuble's advisors as chair of the AEBR. On the reinforced basis following the collapse of Europe's socialist system and the annexation of the German Democratic Republic, Schäuble assisted in imposing the EU's eastward expansion.[7] This initiative had placed Germany at a clear advantage over France, whose traditional zone of influence, around the Mediterranean Basin and in Francophonie Africa cannot be comparably affiliated with the EU. It was also Schäuble, who, in the mid 1990s, developed the "core Europe" concept, meaning "a strong focal point" within the EU centered on Germany, which will form a tight-knit "core," that will not only hold the EU together, but actually should determine EU policy.[8] Today, part of that core is represented by the Eurogroup, which Sunday reached very sweeping decisions, on no less than the continuation of the EU in its current form. Nine EU member nations - including Great Britain, Sweden, and Poland - could not participate in these decisions. The Eurogroup core is one of the formats allowing Berlin to place its seal on this confederation.

Nothing Accomplished

The hopes of being able to have an impact on "Europe's" history, by being a member of the EU's "core," should there be a breach with individual or a group of Eurozone members - for example, Greece or several other southern European countries - has characterized the policies of France and Italy to the present. Both countries are economically increasingly losing ground to Germany and must - particularly in the case of Italy - fear being drawn further downward under austerity conditions - similar to those in Greece. Therefore, France's President François Hollande had announced several times previous to the Eurogroup Summit, last Sunday, that he would seek mitigations and a partial debt remission for Greece. Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had declared, "I say to Germany, enough is enough."[9] Ultimately, both had to submit to German pressure. They accomplished nothing. It is doubtful that their caving in to Berlin will shore up their long-term positions in light of the economic developments of their countries. This would also not be new in history. Hopes of avoiding German aggression had also been the motivation behind the September 1938 Munich Agreement, when Great Britain, France, and Italy, seeking to appease the German Reich, acquiesced to the latter's occupation of the "Sudeten territories."[10] It did not take long before they too were victims of German aggression.

Without or Against the USA

"Il Messaggero" commented on Italy's perspective of the results. "Today, the loss of innocence was accompanied by [Italy's] horrific silence in the international arena." On the other hand, Germany "believes it can assume the reign over Europe." In reference to Berlin's global political perspective, the commentator of "Messaggero" noted that this takes place, "without or against the USA."[11]

Please read also The First Defeat and Austerity or Democracy.

[1] Andrea Bonanni in: La Repubblica 13.07.2015.
[2] Giulio Sapelli in: Il Messaggero 13.07.2015.
[3] Grèce: quand l'Allemagne de Merkel est comparée à celle d'Hitler. www.lefigaro.fr 13.07.2015.
[4] Mélenchon: "Pour la 3e fois, un gouvernement allemend est en train de détruire l'Europe". bfmbusiness.bfmtv.com 12.07.2015.
[5] Beat Gygi: Der Euro spricht neudeutsch. www.nzz.ch 28.09.2013.
[6] See Hintergrundbericht: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Europäischer Grenzregionen (AGEG).
[7] In a paper published on the 55th Anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, Wolfgang Schäuble justified as follows his demand that German concepts be applied: "Without such a further development of (west) European integration, Germany could be called upon or be tempted, out of its own security imperatives, to undertake alone the stabilization of eastern Europe and do it in the traditional way." Wolfgang Schäuble, Karl Lamers: Überlegungen zur europäischen Politik. 01.09.1994.
[8] Wolfgang Schäuble, Karl Lamers: Überlegungen zur europäischen Politik. 01.09.1994.
[9] See Die Politik des Staatsstreichs.
[10] In reaction to the Munich Agreement, the Czechoslovak Foreign Minister at the time, Kamil Krofta, declared: "On behalf of the President of the Republic, as well as my government, I declare that we submit to the conditions of the Munich Agreement which has come into being without Czechoslovakia and against her […] I do not want to criticize, but this is a catastrophe, we do not deserve. We submit and will endeavour to secure our people a peaceful life. I do not know if the decisions taken in Munich will be advantageous to your countries. Besides, we are not the last ones, others will be affected after us." Quoted from Boris Celovsky: Das Münchener Abkommen 1938. Stuttgart 1958
[11] Giulio Sapelli in: Il Messaggero 13.07.2015.