No Bread, but .Circuses: German Public Diplomacy towards Greece

German member of federal parliament Hans-Joachim Fuchtel will be in Greece from March 25 to 28, according to Fuchtel’s website. The speaker of Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament, Guido Wolf, and a number of other experts from various regions will also be part of the group tour.

Their motto: “Encouraging our Greek friends!”

Not entertaining enough: German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Not entertaining enough: German dowager empress chancellor Angela Merkel.

And no, Angela Merkel won’t travel along. I mean, seriously, that wouldn’t be encouraging. Instead, Fuchtel proudly presents Otto Rehhagel, once a successful coach for the Greek national soccer team.

Maybe there are some hidden champions among the experts, with one good economic and political ideas. As for Rehhagel’s mission, Inside Greece sees his assignment as the latest attempt at low-level micro-diplomacy between Germany and Greece:

To send a soccer coach into this environment hoping that he will make a difference is shoddy and shortsighted but absolutely in keeping with the way this crisis has been handled.

Then again, Rehhagel may be able to explain what went wrong, as he did on a press conference after losing against Sweden, in the Euro soccer championship of 2008 –

Q: We have seen that even Germany plays with much more offensive power than usual. Can we expect something of this kind from Greece, too?

A: Of course, we would like to score. But we are a team that scores rarely, as statistics show. We need to stand securely at the back so as to score once, maybe.

But his most recent rescue mission, in Berlin, went wrong. Hertha needs a bailout fund for the coming years, he said in 2012, pondering what would happen if the club, coached by him, would be relegated to the Second Bundesliga. That’s where the club is now.

Politics comes without a sense of history these days – with one exception. Frequently, when the talk is about “more Europe”, we are warned that the alternative of that would be “war”.

But German public diplomacy towards Greece is about bread and circuses. Minus the bread, that is. If public diplomacy is about adding insult to injury, this is certainly a great approach.

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