Entries in Angela Merkel (5)


Police on Alert as German Chancellor Merkel to Visit Greece 

US State Department(ATHENS, Greece) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday brings her tough-talking advocacy for austerity to ground zero of the European debt crisis, and police in Athens are so nervous, they are employing over-the-top security measures.
Police have flooded the streets with 7,000 additional officers and hundreds more undercover agents, stationed snipers on rooftops, closed a half dozen subway stations and sent helicopters to hover over the city to help protect the German chancellor from expected massive demonstrations. Police have also banned protests outside Merkel's hotel and along the route she will travel -- effectively creating a 300-foot-wide bubble separating her from the Greek public as she negotiates the future of Greece's finances.
The country where democracy was born has had to go hat in hand to wealthier European neighbors to deal with crippling debt, and nobody has coughed up more than Germany -- to the chagrin of many German politicians and voters, who see the Greek economy as bloated and riddled with corruption.
But in Greece, three years of austerity and six years of recession have pushed unemployment of young workers to above 50 percent, forced middle-class families to soup kitchens, and even brought into parliament Golden Dawn, an anti-immigrant and anti-Euro party that many call fascist and neo-Nazi.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who usually weighs his words carefully, recently warned that Greece's social fabric was on the verge of cracking. He cited Golden Dawn's ascendance as evidence that Greece could suffer the same fate as Germany's Weimar Republic -- whose own economic collapse led to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s.
Samaras hopes to convince Merkel and Greece's other creditors that they need to lower demands to cut government spending. The "troika" of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are withholding a massive loan until the Greek government makes the cuts. Without the funds, Greece admits it will run out of money next month.
But Merkel is expected to reiterate demands the Greek government cut further, and that's why the police are so worried. The country's labor unions have called for protests, as has the main opposition party, Syriza.
"We want to send a message to not only our government but also to Europe that there’s a lot of people here, the majority of society, who can’t stand these measures of austerity, and this is a common fight that we have with other European people in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, against austerity," Syriza press officer Christos Staikos tells ABC News. "This policy destroyed all the Eurozone."
Samaras and most analysts argue that during a time when governments and people are too weak to spend much money, Merkel needs to help facilitate growth in Greece.
"The economic program that is being proposed is too extreme," Nicholas Economides, a professor of economics at NYU Stern School of Business, argued to ABC News. "The troika is asking for cuts that are way too big given the circumstances, and they would only increase Greece’s recession."
The divide between Merkel, the creditors and much of the Greek public mirrors that between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney when it comes to the Eurozone crisis. Obama has sent Timothy Geithner to Europe at least a half dozen times to advocate for greater investment and growth. Top Romney advisor Glenn Hubbard, on the other hand, recently argued that Obama's attempts to encourage growth over austerity "reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


VIDEO: German Waiter Spills Beer Down Angela Merkel's Back

State Department photo(LONDON) -- Is this the clumsiest waiter ever? He accidentally spilled five glasses of beer down German chancellor Angela Merkel’s back.

The German leader was seated at an Ash Wednesday meeting for the Christian Democratic Union in Demmin, Germany, last week, when the drinks slipped off his tray. And, unfortunately for the waiter, it was all caught on camera.

The waiter, identified by the German newspaper Bild as a 21-year-old named Martin D., says that another waiter was actually supposed to bring the beers out to the table, but “she was so nervous, she asked me to do it for her.”

"I was shoved from behind, and tried to catch the beers, but it was too late," Martin says, adding that he also swore in front of Merkel. “I shouted 's---' really loudly.”

But the German leader has dealt with worse things – Europe’s monetary crisis, the Greek bailout – so after the initial shock, the beer shower didn’t faze her. The waiter tells the paper that Merkel grinned at him and went ahead to give her speech.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


European Leaders Agree on Greek Debt Deal in Marathon Summit

Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- Eurozone leaders are drawing closer to restoring the integrity of the euro and resolving the financial crisis in the region.  

After a lengthy meeting in Brussels, European leaders agreed just before 4 a.m. Thursday to a plan that would require banks to absorb 50 percent of Greece's debt, and push Europe's bailout package to 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion).  

For Greece, the 50-percent reduction will ultimately cut the country's debt to 120 percent of its gross domestic product by 2020, The New York Times reports.

With the eyes of investors around the world watching, an accord was finally reached between eurozone leaders and banks.  The banks had previously rejected appeals for them to accept a 50-percent loss on loans to Greece.  

"The world's attention was on these talks today," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters, according to Bloomberg. "We Europeans showed tonight that we reached the right conclusions."

The International Monetary Fund has also promised more assistance.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Awards German Chancellor Merkel the Medal of Freedom

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At Tuesday night’s State Dinner in the Rose Garden, Obama presented German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the president may bestow.

In his comments before presenting the award, Obama described Merkel as a symbol of freedom given her childhood in communist East Germany.

“She remembers when the Wall went up and how everyone in her church was crying….Asked to spy for the secret police, she refused.  And the night the Wall came down, she crossed over, like so many others, and finally experienced what she calls the ‘incredible gift of freedom,’” Obama said.

“Tonight, we honor Angela Merkel not for being denied her freedom, or even for attaining her freedom, but for what she achieved when she gained her freedom,” the president declared.  

Merkel is the first East German, and the first woman, to be Germany's chancellor.

Merkel said that as a little girl growing up in a part of Germany without freedom, imagining that she would one day “stand in the Rose Garden of the White House and receive the Medal of Freedom from an American president, that was certainly beyond even my wildest dreams.”

The Medal of Freedom is usually an honor bestowed upon Americans although, as the president pointed out, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl are past recipients.

The al fresco dinner in the Rose Garden just outside the West Wing and Oval Office was a rare venue for such an occasion. The décor was intended to have a “clean austere feel” and embraced the German Bauhaus School of design, according to the White House.

The evening concluded with musical performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and singer-songwriter James Taylor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel at White House

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, President Obama stressed the importance of the U.S.-German relationship, saying "there's hardly any global issue where we don't consult one another."

The trip marks Merkel's sixth visit to the U.S. during the Obama presidency. The president and first lady were scheduled to host a State Dinner for Merkel on Tuesday night where Obama was to present her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The two sides agreed there are challenges that they need to meet together, including those resulting from the so-called Arab Spring. On that topic, Obama made clear that, with regards to Libya, he and the chancellor "share the belief that Gadhafi needs to step down, for the sake of his own people."

At the official arrival ceremony Tuesday morning, Obama highlighted the relationship between the U.S. and Germany as central to efforts to promote peace around the world.

Obama joked that "it’s obvious that neither of us looks exactly like the leaders who preceded us…But the fact that we can stand here today as President of the United States and as Chancellor of a united Germany is a testament to the progress, the freedom, that is possible in our world.”

Merkel responded during the press conference. "In a very candid matter, I think even though we may look differently than our predecessors, we have a lot in common, I think, and we have a lot to discuss," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio