German Chancellor: Japan needs honesty to improve relations with victims of World War II


Angela Merkel: I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found

TOKYO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel waded into the fraught area of wartime forgiveness during a visit to Japan, saying that “facing history squarely” and “generous gestures” are necessary to mend ties.

Merkel was speaking in Tokyo on March 9 2015 ahead of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative views on Tokyo’s war crimes are under scrutiny, and as China and South Korea continue to call for more contrition.

“Germany was lucky to be accepted into the community of nations after the horrible experience the world had to meet with Germany during the period of National Socialism (Nazism) and the Holocaust,” she said.

“This was possible first because Germany did face its past squarely, but also because the Allied Powers who controlled Germany after WWII would attach great importance to Germany coming to grips with its past.

“One of the great achievements of the time certainly was reconciliation between Germany and France … the French have given just as valuable a contribution as the Germans have.”

Relations between Japan and its wartime victims China and South Korea are at a low point, with Beijing and Seoul both calling for Tokyo to do more to atone for its past.

Nationalists in Japan say Tokyo has apologised enough and that the constant references to WWII are covering flak for governments in China and South Korea seeking to direct popular anger elsewhere.

There were “great minds and great personalities who said we ought to adopt a policy of rapprochement … and without these generous gestures by our neighbours this would not have been possible,” Merkel told her audience.

The public lecture came on the first day of a two-day trip to Tokyo, her first in seven years.

Abe visited Germany last year.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Sunday said Abe would be welcome at Beijing’s commemorations of the end of WWII if he was “sincere” about history.

Beijing has not given a specific date for the parade but it regards Sept 3, the day after Japan signed its formal surrender to Allied forces on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, as victory day.

“It’s difficult for me as the German chancellor to give you advice on how to deal with part of your neighbourhood. But I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found,” Merkel said in response to questions.

Merkel’s visit to Japan is part of her swing through G7 member nations before Germany hosts the group’s next summit in June. She has already visited the other five nations.

The visit, her third to Japan in almost 10 years in office, is seen as a balancing act between Germany’s ties with Beijing and Tokyo. She has been to China seven times during the same period.

Thanking Japan for joining Western powers in imposing sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine, Merkel said: “Japan and Germany share common interests whenever the strengthening of the international rule of law is to be brought about.” — AFP

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China once again boasts world’s fastest supercomputer


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The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project.

The Tianhe-2 relegated the US-developed Titan to second spot with a performance of 33.86 petaflop (quadrillions of calculations per second) in a standardized test designed to measure computer performance.

IBM’s Sequoia rounded out the top 3 in the TOP500 list.

The TOP500 project, started in 1993, issues a list twice a year that ranks supercomputers based on their performance.

There was little change in the top 10 in the latest list and the only new entry was at number 10 – the Cray CS-Storm, developed by Cray Inc, which also developed the Titan.

The United States was home to six of the top 10 supercomputers, while China, Japan, Switzerland and Germany had one entrant each.

The United States remained the top country in terms of overall systems with 231, down from 233 in June and falling near its historical low.

The number of Chinese systems on the list also dropped to 61 from 76 in June, while Japan increased its number of systems from 30 to 32.

– China Daily/ Asia News Nework

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Mercedes-Benz under monopoly investigation in China


MercedesA Mercedes Benz hood ornament is pictured at the Jacob Javits Convention Center during the New York International Auto Show in New York April 17, 2014. [Photo / Agencies]
German automaker Mercedes-Benz Shanghai office has been searched by anti-monopoly officials on Monday, China Finance Information reported Tuesday.

Investigators, sent by China’s antitrust regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission, visited the automaker’s Shanghai office and inspected several office computers, the report said.

It also said that almost all the staff there was questioned and several top management leaders were questioned until 21:00 pm.

The unexpected probe reportedly targets Mercedes-Benz’s car price policies and price floor imposed on dealerships in China, said the report quoting people familiar with the matter.

The company has not confirmed the news yet. But an insider said to China Daily website that it is preparing a statement on the issue.

Under pressure from Chinese antitrust regulator’s monopoly concerns, Mercedes-Benz was the first to officially reduce the cost of after-sales for its major models by launching its Start Maintenance Menu earlier on July 1.

Covering both smart cars and Mercedes-Benz models, including the A-, B-, C-, E-, GLK-, M-, R-, and S-Class, the cost of maintenance will be cut by 20 percent on average and the reduction for some specific models could be as much as 50 percent.

Then on Sunday, the German automaker announced that it will cut the prices of spare parts by an average of 15 percent in after-sales maintenance for all models from Sept 1.

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Mercedes-Benz cuts spare-part prices on anti-monopoly probe Automakers lower prices following monopoly concerns

Deals mark close relations between Germany and China


Video: German Chancellor meets Chinese Premier, major deals signed

 Germany has hammered out a series of major business deals with China, during Chancellor Angela Merke…
China-Gernany dealsInvestment quota for RMB program to strengthen Germany as yuan center
AT A GLANCE
Deals signed during Angela Merkel’s China visit
• Volkswagen aims to establish two plants in Qingdao and Tianjin with an investment of $2.7 billion.
• Airbus Group will sell 123 helicopters to Chinese companies for general aviation.
• Air China and Lufthansa are in talks that could lead the German and Chinese carriers to form a revenue-sharing joint venture.
• The two countries are planning a joint pilot project concerning Passive House, an energy-efficient method of construction, in Qingdao.
• China will take part as a partner country in the 2015 CeBIT, the world’s leading expo for information technology, in Hanover.

China and Germany will strengthen exchanges in the financial sector and upgrade longstanding cooperation in manufacturing with a slew of deals signed on Monday.

Beijing will grant Berlin an 80 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) quota under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors plan to accelerate the internationalization of the Chinese currency, reinforcing Frankfurt’s status as a yuan clearing center in Europe, in addition to London and Paris.

A high-level financial dialogue will also be set up to boost financial cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang said at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

President Xi Jinping told Merkel during their meeting, “The series of agreements you have signed during your visit to China will bring new impetus to bilateral ties.”

Xi suggests the two countries take bigger steps in their cooperation, with manufacturing industry as the core.

Merkel said Germany would improve its investment environment and attract more Chinese investors.

She is accompanied by a high-profile business delegation including executives from Siemens, Volkswagen, Airbus, Luft-hansa and Deutsche Bank.

Apart from the financial deal, the countries also signed deals on automobiles, aviation and telecommunications.

China approved London joining the RQFII plan in October, granting investors the right to use the yuan to buy up to 80 billion yuan worth of mainland stocks, bonds and money market instruments.

It later granted Paris the same quota in March.

Luxembourg is also lobbying Beijing for the same treatment after it signed an agreement with China’s central bank for yuan clearing arrangements on June 28.

Li Jianjun, a financial analyst at Bank of China’s International Finance Research Institute, said the competition for offshore yuan centers among major European cities is a healthy feature of cooperation.

“The renminbi is still at the initial stage of internationalization. We are expanding the offshore yuan pie and setting up a global network with overseas financial markets. Allowing qualified foreign institutional investors to use the yuan will benefit China and other countries,” Li said.

Chinese leaders are likely to take Frankfurt as a core center for renminbi clearing services in continental Europe, while establishing secondary yuan clearing sites in Paris and Luxembourg, Li said.

“We cannot cover a wide range and a large amount of renminbi-related businesses with only one center,” Li said. “With Frankfurt as a leading offshore yuan-trading city, we will create a nice layout for renminbi internationalization in Europe.”

In the first five months of 2014, Germany’s direct investment in China reached $810 million, or 30 percent of the $2.69 billion investment in China by all members of the EU, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2013, two-way trade between the countries reached $161 billion, taking up almost one-third of total China-EU trade.

China is Germany’s largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

Merkel’s visit, her seventh trip to China, came only four months after the last meeting between leaders of the two nations. President Xi Jinping visited Germany in March.

Before flying to Beijing, Merkel stopped at Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

Merkel said she felt the dynamics and development of southwestern China in Chengdu, where urbanization is urgently needed to catch up with coastal cities.

“China’s vigor stays not only on the coastline but also in the central and west area,” she said.

Sebastian Heilmann, president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, said in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle: “Germany provides China with products it needs for industrialization, for example ,machines, specialty chemicals and electronic goods. On the other hand, Chinese consumer goods with very reasonable prices are in high demand in Germany.”

Ren Baiming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, said Germany, as well as the European Union at large, need a driving force from the outside for growth, and the fast-growing Chinese market meets that need.

Wu Jiao contributed to this story. – By ZHAO YINAN and JIANG XUEQING (China Daily)
/Asia News Network

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WW2 D-Day remembered in Normandy France; China praises Germany, slams Japan for denial of its brutal history


China praises Germany, slams Japan

(Reuters) – China used the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings on Friday to praise Germany for its contrition over its wartime past and slam Japan for what Beijing views as Tokyo’s continued denial of its brutal history.

China has increasingly contrasted Germany and its public remorse for the Nazi regime to Japan, where repeated official apologies for wartime suffering are sometimes undercut by contradictory comments by conservative politicians.

Ties between the two Asian rivals worsened on Dec. 26 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Tokyo’s past militarism because it honors war criminals along with millions of war dead.

“Germany’s sincere remorse has won the confidence of the world,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing, when asked about the D-Day anniversary.

“But in Asia on the Asian battlefield, the leaders of Japan, which caused harm and which lost the war, are to this day still trying to reverse the course of history and deny their history of invasion,” Hong added.

“What Japanese leaders are doing has been widely condemned in the international community. We again urge Japan’s leaders to face up to and deeply reflect on the history of invasion and take real steps to correct their mistakes to win the trust of its neighbors in Asia and in the international community.”

Japan’s government and Abe himself have repeatedly said that Japan has faced up to its past sincerely.

–  (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Japan urged to correct mistakes as D-Day remembered

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) — China on Friday urged Japan to reflect on its aggression past and correct mistakes with practical actions, as international D-Day commemorations were held.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing, “We again urge Japanese leaders to face up to and remember its aggression past, correct mistakes with tangible actions and win the trust of Asian neighbors and the international community.”

Among international commemorations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day being held, one was in Normandy, France.

Hong said as far as the Second World War is concerned, Europe has turned over a new page. Quoting an old Chinese saying, he said, “Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.”

Hong said, “Germany has won world respect by sincerely apologizing for its wrong-doing.

“Yet leaders of Japan, a defeated country in World War II, are still attempting to deny its past and challenge the post-war international order, thus their acts are widely condemned by the international community.”

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HMS Bulwark (library photograph) HMS Bulwark will be part of a flotilla heading to France from Portsmouth

Friday marks 70 years since the allied troops in the Second World War landed in Normandy. Ceremonies large and small have been taking place on both sides of the English Channel.

WWII veterons attend a Drumhead Service on Southsea Common in commemoration of the D-Day landings on June 5, 2014 in Portsmouth, England.
WWII veterons attend a Drumhead Service on Southsea Common in commemoration of the D-Day landings on June 5, 2014 in Portsmouth, England.

In the southern English naval base of Portsmouth, which was the departure point for troops heading to Sword Beach, one of the main landing points, British Royal Marines acted out military exercises for thousands of veterans who gathered on Thursday to make the crossing for the commemorations.

While over in northern France, 300 soldiers from the US, UK, Canada and France parachuted in tandem over the village of Ranville, and World War II planes flew over Utah Beach. Thousands of Allied troops flew or parachuted onto the German-occupied French soil during the early hours of June 6th, in 1944, catching the German army by surprise. But the price was high, nearly 4,500 were dead by the end of the day.

With many D-Day veterans now in their 90s, this year could be the last time that many of those who took part in the battle, will be able to make the long journey back to Normandy and tell their stories. The main D-Day ceremony will be held in Ouistreham, a small port that was the site of a strategic battle on D-Day. Some 18 heads of state are expected to attend the commemorations.

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Dawn of a new superpower


When the world continues to discuss China’s impact even when there are other issues to consider, China has clearly ‘arrived’

CHINA’S unrelenting growth is continuing to fuel speculation about the implications of its spectacular rise for the rest of the world.

Its irrepressive re-emergence as a major world power shapes and colours private discourses, academic analyses and bilateral and multilateral discussions, whether or not intended originally to discuss China.

It permeates strategic discourses behind closed doors, casual coffeeshop talk and everything in between. The recent Germany-Malaysia Security Forum in Kuala Lumpur, sponsored by Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS) and organised by ISIS Malaysia, was an example.

Germany’s political foundations like the KAS are affiliated with their respective political parties, and with the KAS it is with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rightwing Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

It is significant that even with a conservative CDU government, Germany has no qualms about the rise of China. German delegates instead looked constructively ahead to an even more prosperous China with which to work, above and beyond any ideological differences.

A Malaysian delegate privately remarked that Germans had been trading successfully with China for centuries. China had been a major world power then and, after a period of isolation and internal upheaval, it is becoming a major world power again.

Countries East and West that have had similarly positive experiences with China feel the same. Those that might have upset China through war, invasion, occupation or squabbling over tiny islets might feel differently, but exactly how an unprovoked China would perceive them today is another matter.

A larger conference in Berlin some years ago attended by delegates from various countries, and sponsored by Germany’s Defence Ministry, was similarly positive about China. At that time, Merkel’s government comprised her CDU, the equally rightwing Christian Social Union (of Bavaria) and the left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SPD) of her immediate predecessor, Gerhard Schröder.

Since then, Merkel’s CDU-led coalition had substituted the SPD with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a centrist party that became another right-of-centre party. That Germany’s formal posture towards a rising China has not changed indicates that its positive outlook on China is deep-seated and enduring, unaffected by political ideologies in Germany or China.

Nonetheless, some classic questions about a rising China and its impact on Asia and the world linger. These tend to refer to developments such as the increasing defence expenditure of countries in East Asia.

Other slick assumptions are that Asean countries are “hedging” against China, and the world has moved from the Westphalian concept of national sovereignty to that of “responsibility to protect”. The former is untested and the latter is still disturbing.

It is easy to make a superficial connection between these issues and a rising China, and then to conclude that there is an arms race in the region, and the arms race must therefore have resulted from a region alarmed by China’s rise.

These points had been raised erroneously 20 years ago, and they will still be raised 20 or more years from now. The problem with these simple-minded assumptions is that they neglect both the key details and the big picture.

All countries spend continually on defence, routinely preparing for contingencies from any quarter and not just to arm against any particular threat. This happens everywhere all the time, regardless of the prevailing strategic situation in a country or region.

A Malaysian delegate explained that it was part of the normal course of running defence establishments, when countries need to renew their ageing arsenals or when they become more developed and can afford to spend more. It might be added that defence procurement is the most lucrative industry in the world, so it easily acquires a logic and a momentum of its own.

However, at a time when Philippine and Chinese officials have had uncomfortable brushes with each other over the disputed Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea, blips in national defence budgets may appear suggestive.

But alarmist presumptions about regional threats and the need to “arm” against them can easily acquire a logic and a momentum of their own as well, however unjustified. At the same time, some parties may be hoping to see conflict in the region to profit from it through the arms trade, strategic leverage or recruitment of allies.

Such a prospect militates against this region’s collective interests and several of its abiding realities.

First, the political stability and economic prosperity of countries in East Asia depend on the stability and propensity for growth in the region as a whole. Injury to the region’s prospects also hurts individual national prospects.

Second, the countries in East Asia, particularly those of Asean, are clearly dwarfed by China. No amount of individual “arming” can address the gulf in national defence capacities between them and China.

Third, Asean countries are still unable to act as one militarily even if by doing so their collective clout can achieve some “balance” with a hulking China. Age-old border issues, disputed maritime territory and other niggling bilateral concerns have prevented any sense of an Asean security entity from developing until now and for the foreseeable future.

Fourth, the immature presumption that smaller countries in East Asia can always bank on the US for protection is both mistaken and dangerous, because that notion becomes very destabilising whenever it is proven untrue.

The notion of a US acting as a countervailing force against China derives only from those instances when US and indigenous concerns coincide in ways that are dissimilar to China’s. When US and East Asian interests diverge, as they will at certain points, the regional strategic picture will change.

US-China joint interests have grown tremen­dously and will continue to grow. They may already have surpassed the shared interests between the US and East Asia minus China.

The US itself is the sole superpower with an agenda and priorities of its own. Beyond a limited convergence of interests with other countries, it will not deign to act as a servant or bodyguard of smaller nations.

China remains inundated with domestic problems of its own. These span pressing social, administrative and environmental concerns as well as restive provinces and an economy running out of steam.

Meanwhile, it has witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union that had suffered excessive arms expenditures, and a troubled US economy weighed down by overspending on foreign wars. Pragmatic Chinese leaders today would know better than to repeat those mistakes.

Modern China’s success also depends considerably on a peaceful East Asia that has enabled it to boost its exports worldwide. And since the regional peace has also been maintained by a US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, China as its greatest economic beneficiary might perhaps be asked to help pay for that presence.

When I mentioned that to Martin Jacques, the British academic and author of When China Rules The World, he chuckled. But that is a modern-day reality that a country like Germany may be able to understand.

Clearly, not all Western views of a rising China are created equal. The differences between the German and US views are interesting, and they become more telling when Germany is a leading country and the strongest economy in Europe.

Perhaps that has something to do with Germany not having to “guard” its status as the sole superpower in the world.

Behind The Headlines By Bunn Nagara

The euro crisis just got a whole lot worse


Jeremy WarnerWith Europe plunging back into recession and unemployment soaring, Francois Hollande, the French president elect, is calling for growth objectives to be reprioritised over the chemotherapy of austerity.

Riot policemen lead away a right-wing protestor holding a placard reading

Riot policemen lead away a protester holding a placard reading ‘Let’s get out of the Euro’ during May Day demonstrations in Neumuenster, Germany Photo: Reuters

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has meanwhile continued to insist that on the contrary, Europe must persist with the hairshirt. What’s needed is political courage and creativity, not more billions thrown away in fiscal stimulus. Stick with the programme, she urges, as the anti-austerity backlash reaches the point of outright political insurrection.

Hollande and Merkel are, of course, both wrong. What Europe really needs is a return to free-floating sovereign currencies. Only then will Europe’s seemingly interminable debt crisis be lastingly resolved. All the rest is just so much prancing around the goalposts, or an attempt to make the fundamentally unworkable somehow work.

The latest eurozone data are truly shocking, much worse in its implications both for us and them than news last week of a double-dip recession in the UK.

Even in Germany, unemployment is now rising, with a lot more to come judging by the sharp deterioration in manufacturing confidence. For Spanish youth, unemployment has become a way of life, with more young people now out of a job (51.1pc) than in one. In contrast to the US, where the unemployment rate is falling, joblessness in the eurozone as a whole has now reached nearly 11pc. Against these eye-popping numbers, Britain might almost reasonably take pride in its still intolerable 8.3pc unemployment rate.

There is only one boom business in Spain these days – teaching English and German. No prizes for guessing where these students are heading.

Hollande’s opportunism in calling for a growth strategy he must know cannot be delivered looks like being answered only by intensifying recession. Maybe Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, will surprise us after Thursday’s meeting with a rate cut and a eurozone-wide programme of quantitative easing. But even if he did, it wouldn’t fix the underlying problem, which is one of lost competitiveness manifested in ever more intractable levels of external indebtedness.

To think these problems can be solved either by fiscal austerity or, as advocated by Hollande and others, by its polar opposite of fiscal expansionism is to descend into fantasy.

By reinforcing the cycle, and thereby exacerbating the slump, fiscal austerity is proving self-defeating. Far from easing the problem of excessive indebtedness, it is only making it worse.

But it is equally absurd to believe that countries in the midst of a fiscal crisis can borrow their way back to growth. Who is going to lend with the certainty of a haircut or eurozone break-up to come?

I’ve been looking at the comparative numbers on fiscal consolidation, and they reveal some striking differences. The hairshirt prescribed for others is most assuredly not being donned by austerity’s cheerleader in chief, Germany.

In fact, German government consumption is continuing to rise quite strongly, even in real terms, and the fiscal squeeze pencilled in by Berlin for itself for the next three years is marginal compared with virtually everyone else. Germany is requiring others to adopt policies it has no intention of following itself. What’s so odd about that, you might ask?

Right to spend

Germany has earned the right to spend through years of prior restraint. It’s got no structural deficit to speak of and, in any case, isn’t that the way things are meant to work, with those capable of some fiscal expansionism compensating for the squeeze imposed by others?

All these things are true, but there is something faintly hypocritical about a country prescribing policy for others that it wouldn’t dream of imposing on itself. Germany’s supposed love of self-flagellation is actually something of a myth.

By the way, despite the rhetoric, Britain is hardly an outrider on austerity either. Now admittedly, the Coalition’s plans for fiscal consolidation have been somewhat derailed by economic stagnation. We were meant to be further along than we are. But in terms of what’s left to do, the UK is no more than middle of the pack.

On current plans, by contrast, the fiscal squeeze in the US, land of supposed fiscal expansionism, ratchets up substantially to something quite a bit bigger than what the UK has pencilled in for the next two years. It remains to be seen what effect that’s going to have on the American recovery. Will renewed growth melt away as surely as it did in early 2011, or is it self-sustaining this time?

Back in the eurozone, the stand-off between creditor and debtor nations shows few, if any, signs of meaningful resolution. During the recession of the early 1990s, there was a famous British Property Federation dinner at which the chairman introduced the then chief executive of Barclays Bank, Andrew Buxton, as “a man to whom we owe, er, more than we can ever repay”. It was a good joke, but it also neatly encapsulated what happens in all debt crises.

When the debtor borrows more than he can afford, the creditor will in the end always take a hit. The only thing left to talk about is how the burden is to be shared. The idea that you can force the debtor to repay by depriving him of his means of income is a logical absurdity, yet this is effectively what’s going on in the eurozone.

When such imbalances develop between countries, they are normally settled by devaluation, which provides a natural market mechanism both for restoring competitiveness in the debtor nation and establishing the correct level of burden sharing.

Least tortuous form of default

It’s default in all but name, but it is the least tortuous form of it.  Free-floating sovereign exchange rates also provide a natural check on the build-up of such imbalances in the first place.

The reason things got so out of hand in the eurozone is that investors assumed in lending to the periphery that they were effectively underwritten by the core, mistakenly as it turned out. Interest rates therefore converged on those of the most creditworthy, Germany, allowing an unrestrained credit boom to develop in the deficit nations.

None of this is going to be solved by austerity. For now, there is no majority in any eurozone country for leaving the single currency, but one thing is certain: nation states won’t allow themselves to be locked into permanent recession. Eventually, national solutions will be sought.

The whole thing is held together only by the fear that leaving will induce something even worse than the current austerity. This is not a formula for lasting monetary union.

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