Germans Resent Plans To Bail Out Greece France and Germany have taken very different approaches toward the debt problems of Greece. While Paris was quick to offer support, Berlin was equally quick to criticize the way Greece had handled its finances. But with the Greek economy in a severe downward spiral, the two heavyweights of Europe are being forced to come up with a joint strategy to save the euro.
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Germans Resent Plans To Bail Out Greece

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Germans Resent Plans To Bail Out Greece

Germans Resent Plans To Bail Out Greece

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley sends this report from Berlin.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Back in March, when it became clear that Greece was unable to handle its burgeoning debt burden alone, French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately proposed a concerted eurozone bailout package.

NICOLAS SARKOZY: (Through translator) France and its partners will do what's necessary. I want to be very clear about this: The countries in the eurozone will fulfill their engagement. The euro is our money, and it means we will act in solidarity. There can be no doubt about this.

BEARDSLEY: Businessman Gerald Lisowski(ph) is having a class of wine at a trendy sidewalk cafe, just a few blocks from where the Berlin Wall once stood. The area used to lie in run-down East Berlin, but that was a long time and a lot of money ago, says Lisowski.

GERALD LISOWSKI: We paid 20 years, more than 100 million - billion euros to the East Germany.

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

BEARDSLEY: Kerber says with the euro, Germans don't feel they're in control.

MARKUS KERBER: We are more and more confronted with the situation whereby our monetary destiny is decided by people we have never elected, and by people on whom we have no influence. We have no influence on Greek policy. Why do we have to pay for that?

BEARDSLEY: Michel Godet is a Frenchman and an economic advisor to his government, but he agrees with the Germans. He says France has the same Mediterranean mindset as Greece and, like Greece, finances its growth through deficit spending. The big difference between the two countries is that the French government is not corrupt and is able to collect taxes, says Godet. He believes French taxpayers will pay dearly for the Greek bailout.

MICHEL GODET: What does it mean to help Greece? It means to increase our own national deficit. Because the rate of the French debt is 5 percent, and the Greek one is around 8 percent. So this game will not continue forever, you know.

BEARDSLEY: Berliner Guilla Mayor(ph) is out walking her dog. She says the Greeks must change, but they can't be left to fail.

GUILLA MAYOR: They have to pay their taxes, just like Germans have to do. But Germany must give money for the Greek. We are together, all of the states who have the euro, they must stand together.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Berlin.

INSKEEP: Thomas Marzahl also contributed to Eleanor's report.

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