Global Politics

Germans Speak Out On Euro Woes

By Thomas Dreisbach

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The weather in Munich was sunny on Tuesday — and that's a rarity this summer. So there's certain lightness on the streets. That is, until the conversation turns to the Euro.

"The whole Euro project is complete nonsense," said Georg Köppena. Köppen, who's retired, on a pension, sat on a bench, smoking, by Munich's Pariser Platz.

"From the beginning, [the Euro] wasn't really thought through," he said. "It was more wishful thinking than reality."
Köppen said he is against the proposal to create so-called Euro Bonds, one of the proposals being floated this week to rescue the Eurozone from its growing debt crisis. But at this stage, he said he doesn't see any good options.

"I wouldn't want to be Finance Minister now," he said.

Not everyone regrets joining the Euro.

Fritz Rudies, who described himself as unemployed, said Germany has made a commitment to the other Euro member states.

"The help that we must provide — or are able to provide — will eventually pay for itself. It will even out over the years."
Another retiree sitting in the Platz was Angelika. She didn't want to give her last name. She said she is ambivalent about providing more help to other Eurozone countries.

"On the one hand, we're the European Union, and we have to help. But we have to draw the line somewhere," Angelika said. "Otherwise, there will always be countries that do what they want and think, 'oh, yeah, someone will come to help.' It's time they take care of themselves."

Angelika added that in general, she trusts Angela Merkel on this issue, but she sometimes wonders if Germany's leader is too easily influenced by others.

Over at Odeonsplatz in central Munich, Gerhard Naar read the tabloid Bild over a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Naar is a chauffeur, and he's off his shift.

He said that Germany has been living beyond its means, and if it takes on more debt trying to save others, it could end up underwater itself.

"Who would save Germany then?" he asked. "No one, probably."

Even the people who do support continued assistance for troubled European economies feel a sense of unfairness — that Germany has taken on so much risk, and will likely take on more, but will have nothing to show for it.
Susanna Eskelinen, 25, studies English and German in Munich. She said she supports helping countries like Ireland, Greece, Spain, and now Italy, but she's not happy about it.

"It kind of sucks, to put it bluntly," she said, "having to pay for countries and people that you have no relation to. But I think altogether it's a risk that could've been considered before. So it's kind of hypocritical to start complaining now."

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