Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti warned that the debt crisis is creating national resentments that could cause a “psychological break-up” in Europe that must be contained.
In an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, Monti emphasized that such disagreements are endangering the policy response to the debt crisis and could threaten the future of the euro zone and its single currency, which came into being in 2002. While saying he supports the European Central Bank’s willingness to intervene in government bond markets and address the debt of euro zone governments, Monti said that the problems “have to be solved quickly now so that there’s no further uncertainty about the euro zone’s ability to overcome the crisis.”
“There is a front line in this area between north and south. There are reciprocal prejudices. It is very alarming and we must fight against it,” Monti emphasized.
Evidence of those prejudices has indeed surfaced. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been compared to Hitler and depicted as him in caricatures. An Italian newspaper, Il Giornale (which is owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) is running a front-page article describing her domination of European politics as a “Fourth Reich.”
A study released in May by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that Germans and Greeks are “polar opposites.” Germany, whose economy is certainly the healthiest in the euro zone, is the “most admired,” its leader the “most respected” and its citizens thought to be the most hardest-working”; it is the country most in favor of European economic integration and of the European Union. Not surprisingly, a majority of Germans think that integration has been an economic plus. 53 percent believe their country to be on the right trajectory
In very stark contrast, no EU members see Greece “in a positive light.” Greeks are “among the “most disparaging” about European economic integration and the “harshest critics of the European Union.” In contrast to what other nations think, Greeks see themselves as the most hardworking in Europe. In addition, 70 percent of Greeks think that membership in the EU has weakened their country’s economy. A miniscule 2 percent believe that the country is on the right path.
Such diametrically opposing views suggest that the “psychological break-up” Monti refers to has been in place for a long time. Might it be more accurate to diagnose the euro zone with symptoms of bipolar disorder?
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