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Germany

Europe’s Taxpayers Cannot Foot The Bill For Greece's Theater Of The Absurd

OpEd: It's time for European leaders to stop playing for time. Taxpayers alone cannot foot the bill for Greece’s debt disaster, and private creditors must quickly become a part of the equation.

Fires still burning in Athens (linmtheu)
Fires still burning in Athens (linmtheu)
Dorothea Siems

BERLIN - General strikes, political conflict, demonstrations—all that Greek drama packs a powerful punch. And the word from Berlin and Brussels until recently has been that without a 100 billion-euro rescue package, the Greek state would be looking at bankruptcy by July. But now, the tune is changing: no need for a rescue operation before September. Until then, Greece will be able to hold its head above water with what remains of the loans it has already received.

This playing for time works to no one's advantage. The new storyline is most likely due to the German government's hope that the current agitated level of German public interest in the Greek situation will eventually die down — push rescue operations down the road a bit, and there will be less fuss when they're wheeled out again. However, in view of rising opposition in Greece itself to Athens' austerity measures, it's becoming ever clearer that the course the European Union (EU) has embarked on is not going to get the job done.

The EU cannot force a cure. Economists in any case doubt that a country indebted to the degree that Greece is can clean up its act without a hardnosed combination of re-scheduling and cancellation. Europe's taxpayers are doing the Greeks no favors by continuing on this course. All they're doing, in fact, is paying spiraling debt service costs. Theater of the absurd, indeed.

Ordinary people in both Germany and Greece sense there's something wrong with this picture. Discontent is rife in the parliaments of both countries, as doubts spread about the ability of Europe's politicians to get this thing under control. It's a bitter blow that the European Central Bank, in the biggest crisis the EU has ever faced, can't step up to the plate to broker a solution.

Because they bowed to political pressure a year ago and accepted Greek junk bonds as securities, sheer self-interest is now making them fight re-scheduling tooth and nail. Were that to happen, the bank itself would face the need for capital injection. And the new head of Germany's federal bank is playing right along: if the central banker had his way, more time would be bought with fresh taxpayer money. But at what absolutely crazy price?

Instead of bungling along from rescue operation to rescue operation, Euroland's politicians should wise up and accept the fact that Greece's debt disaster cannot be put right without letting private creditors in on the act. And instead of wasting precious time, Germany's finance minister should be using it to get out there and fight that fight in Brussels.

Read the original article in German

photo - linmtheu

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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