Bismarck contre Bismarck

ATHENES – La centralité de l'Allemagne en Europe et, plus largement, dans les affaires du monde a été démontrée abondamment, et souvent de manière sanglante, au fil des siècles. En effet, la position stratégique de l'Allemagne au cœur de l'Europe, ainsi que son énorme potentiel économique et militaire, en ont d'abord fait un prix à remporter puis, après l'achèvement de l'unification allemande d'Otto von Bismarck en 1871, un Etat-nation à craindre. L'héritage de Bismarck fut une Allemagne qui a dominé la politique européenne jusqu’à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Cet héritage est aujourd'hui en train de s’imposer à nouveau. Après l'intermède de la guerre froide, au cours de laquelle l'Allemagne a servi de centre de discorde entre l'Est et l'Ouest, la réunification a permis la réaffirmation de la puissance allemande dans le cadre de l'Union européenne et, plus particulièrement, de la zone euro. Aujourd'hui, cependant, la question est de savoir si l'Allemagne est prête et disposée à faire preuve de leadership dans la conduite des affaires de l'UE – et, si oui, à quelle fin.

L'Europe est actuellement confrontée à la crise la plus difficile de l'après-guerre. Après six trimestres de récession, la crise se propage aux pays du noyau dur de la zone euro. Le taux de chômage, supérieur à 12% en moyenne, est à un niveau record. En Espagne et en Grèce, plus d'un quart de la population active est au chômage, alors que le taux de chômage des jeunes tourne autour de 60%. Malgré l'austérité sévère, d'importants déficits budgétaires persistent, et les banques demeurent sous-capitalisées et incapables de soutenir une reprise économique durable.

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