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Euro crisis and Germany: Is this 'indispensable' nation to be feared, or welcomed?

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Addressing Mr. Bush and Mr. Gorbachev, she continued: “President Mitterrand and I know. We have sat there at the table [with Germany] very often indeed. Germany will use her power. She will use the fact that she is the largest contributor to Europe to say, ‘Look, I put more money in than anyone else, and I must have my way on things which I want.’ I have heard it several times. And I have heard the smaller countries agree with Germany because they hoped to get certain subsidies. The German parliament would not ratify the Maastricht Treaty unless the central bank for a single currency was based there. What did the European Union say? Yes, you shall have it.”

Thatcher said then what is surely on Cameron’s mind today: “All this is flatly contrary to all my ideals. Some people say you have to anchor Germany to Europe to stop these features from coming out again. Well, you have not anchored Germany to Europe, but Europe to a newly dominant Germany. That is why I call it a German Europe.”

In the 1995 discussion, neither Bush nor Gorbachev shared Thatcher’s alarm. “I felt German unification would be in the fundamental interest of the West,” Bush said. “I felt the time had come to trust the Germans more, given what they had done since the end of World War II.” Despite the Soviet Union’s early opposition to German unity, Moscow ultimately agreed. As Gorbachev put it: “President Bush was right about Germany. The Germans had accepted democratic values. They had behaved responsibly. They had recognized their guilt. They had apologized for their past, and that was very important. So, as difficult as it was to accept, it was inevitable that the Soviet leadership took decisions consistent with this reality.”

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