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Economy

Europe’s Debt Crisis: A View From China

Op-Ed: Until now, says a top Chinese economist, Europe’s political leaders have failed to find the courage or foresight to solve the debt crisis. But maybe Madame Merkel is changing her tune just in time.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou shaking hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou shaking hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao
Xiang Songzuo

BEIJING - I had dinner with a few senior European financiers and professors in Beijing last week. When we talked about the euro crisis looming over Europe, we couldn't but agree unanimously: across today's small globe, all the major countries on the planet simply lack a strong leader. This is the very reason why the debt crisis has turned into a global epidemic touching every continent.

My European friends criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy outright as being overambitious and unrealistic. German Chancellor Angel Merkel is indecisive and lacks guts. British Prime Minister Cameron is shortsighted and non-tactical. U.S. President Barack Obama is rhetoric without action. And Japan changes its Prime Minister as quickly as a Beijing billboard panel rotates its advertisements.

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 105: Angela Merkel Defends Her Handling Of Putin

In her first interview since the end of her 16 years as German Chancellor, Merkel said she had "nothing to apologize for." Asked why she had opposed plans for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in 2008. “Ukraine was not the country that we know now."

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin meet last August

Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her track record in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying she “has nothing to apologize for,” during her first public appearance since leaving office six months ago.

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In a public interview Tuesday night with Der Spiegel in Berlin, Merkel was asked about her government’s opposition of a U.S.-led plan for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in 2008. The Chancellor said she did not regret the decision. “Ukraine was not the country that we know now. It was a Ukraine that was very split” and “ruled by oligarchs at the time.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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