When German chancellor Angela Merkel took time off from the Greece crisis this week, she must have thought she was on safe ground visiting a school in the port of Rostock.
But an encounter with a 13-year-old Palestinian refugee girl turned the trip into a PR debacle. The chancellor’s apparent inability to sympathise with the teenager triggered a storm of social media criticism about her behaviour – and German immigration policy.
A lot of it was very unfair. Yet the episode highlights a weakness in Ms Merkel’s engagement with her public: while she is very good in judging the mood of Germans as a whole, she can be uncomfortable in individual confrontations. Read more
Who loses most from the Greek rescue deal?
On Monday Athens was given a long list of economic reforms it needed to implement in return for another EU bailout. Was it a humiliation for the Greeks or a capitulation by the Germans? Gideon Rachman and Wolfgang Munchau discuss who was the biggest loser.
By Gideon Rachman
Europe woke up on Monday to a lot of headlines about the humiliation of Greece, the triumph of an all-powerful Germany and the subversion of democracy in Europe.
By Gideon Rachman
When the radical left won power in Greece in January much was made of the fact that Yanis Varoufakis, the new finance minister, is an academic economist. Many expected that Greece’s negotiating strategy would display a new subtlety and brilliance, now that it was guided by the co-author of Game Theory — A Critical Introduction.
This week Greece finally put a figure on its demand for war reparations from Germany – €278.7bn as compensation for the death and destruction visited by the Nazis during the war. Opinion polls suggest that this gambit is widely popular in Greece. But by bringing this issue up now, the Greek government may have made a serious miscalculation that could contribute to the country’s disorderly exit from the euro.
Greece’s reparations demand comes at a time when the government in Athens is running out of money and its creditors are running out of patience. The country is likely to need a new bailout package this summer. By putting the reparations issue on the table, the Greeks may feel they gain extra leverage – as well as the possibility that they will actually get debts written off, rather than simply extended. But they have also significantly raised the risk that the Germans will simply walk away from the table altogether – forcing Greece into a default and a disorderly exit from the euro. Read more
It is a momentous day for the European Central Bank as it launches full-scale government bond buying. Mr Draghi started speaking at 13.30 GMT and the press conference usually lasts for an hour.
By Ralph Atkins and Lindsay Whipp
Within twenty years of the end of the second world war, the same European countries that had been sworn enemies during six years of bloody conflict committed themselves to a future of peace, prosperity and political and economic integration.
Some war crimes suspects slipped the net and avoided the Nuremberg trials, but their elusiveness did not interrupt or discredit the reconciliation process led by West Germany and France.
But two decades on from the wars that ripped apart the former Yugoslavia, it is impossible to make the case that reconciliation and integration are as advanced there as they were in western Europe by the mid-1960s.
The region’s societies, ethnicities and political leaderships remain bitterly at odds over how to assess the war crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995.