Thursday, June 8, 2017

Angela Merkel seeks to manage expectations in Argentina, Mexico By Michaela Küfner

Photo Credit: Chancellor Merkel and President Macri
DW/Reuters/M. Brindicci
German Chancellor Angela Merkel began her visit to Argentina with a speech at a synagogue in Buenos Aires. DW's Michaela Küfner described the background to the Latin American trip. Before meeting Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Merkel visited Buenos Aires' Templo Libertad synagogue (pictured above) in recognition of Argentina's role in offering refuge to Jews fleeing from the Nazis. The Chancellor acknowledged Latin America's largest Jewish community, which today comprises roughly 250,000 people. She recalled the "terrible attacks" on the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center in Argentina in the 1990s, noting that a newly restored synagogue organ symbolized a bridge with Germany. Merkel's itinerary is also set to include a stop at which she will pay tribute to the victims of the country's 1976-1983 dictatorship, during which between 7,000 and 30,000 people were killed.
No anti-Trump alliance
Berlin insists that this trip is not about forming any kind of alliance against US President Donald Trump's protectionist economic rhetoric. Officially, Merkel's stops in Argentina and then Mexico were simply the last countries left on the list to visit prior to the G20 summit in Hamburg. The former chief of government of Argentina's capital, Macri has earned some respect with the German chancellor for beginning to pull his country out of the all-out economic mess that had its origins in Argentina's 2001 state bankruptcy. He secured a settlement with hedge funds where both the previous presidencies failed, regaining Argentina's access to financial markets. Yet this "success story" came at a high price for ordinary Argentinians. Merkel noted Thursday her first visit to Argentina came after Macri helped open Argentina to international credit markets following a long absence. "My first visit as Chancellor is taking place as President Macri has managed the re-opening of the country to the financial markets," Merkel said. "We believe that beyond political discussions we can support economic development. Argentina needs infrastructure, Argentina has to modernize and for that Germany can be a good partner." DW-Deutsche Welle