Richard North, 24/08/2012  

Merkel 472-ven.jpg

As they hugged in greeting at the entrance of the Chancellery, together waving to photographers as they stood in the evening sunlight on the seventh floor of Berlin's government headquarters, they stressed the importance of the Franco-German friendship. "We belong together," says François Hollande. Angela Merkel nods eagerly.

"I want Greece to remain in the euro area", said the French president, but nevertheless called on Greece to "make efforts that are essential to achieving this goal". Merkel felt it was "important that Greece kept to her promises". But she did say she wanted to "encourage the country to pursue reforms".

The pair then went in to dinner with the warning that we should not expect anything conclusive. "This is a working meeting to discuss the situation in Europe and to ensure the application of measures decided on 29 June at the European Council," they said in Paris. No decision is expected on Greece.

That's all you're going to get. The brief statement, without responding to questions, was at the request of Merkel. In the run up to the election, she wants to avoid missteps and having to say too much about her European record.

Hollande would not have said no to a little more media coverage, but there you go. He's only the French president and not a very popular one. His trust rating in the polls has just dropped below 50 percent.

But, says Le Figaro, he can always wait until he gets home and leak all the details of the meeting, just to annoy the Germans. But, for the moment, the business is being conducted behind closed doors.

The rest is theatre – the diplomatic ballet. And you're not the only ones who are getting fed up with it. Samaras, due to meet Merkel later today, is seriously miffed.

How can we privatise when, every day, he complains, European officials speculate publicly about "a potential exit of Greece from the common currency"? This must stop. If we do our job, Greece can be saved. Everyone has to earn a Greek "success story".

Meanwhile, "Extra time is not a solution to the problems", says Schäuble. He's not wrong, but the diplomatic ballet can't be hurried. The media have got to fill the space between the ads somehow.

comments powered by Disqus

Brexit - the first year - New e-book by Richard North
Brexit - the first year - New e-book by Richard North
Buy Now

Log in

Sign THA
Think Defence

The Many, Not the Few