German Stammtisch-humor: Merkel’s Envoy Otto Rehhagel arrived in Athens

Posted by in Politics

It must be humor. German humor around the traditional Stammtisch* with Alte Herren* and the whole associated mentality. A humor that other EU citizens may find hard to understand. Hours after Germany re-confirmed its predominance in the Eurogroup and the Euro Zone, former football trainer Otto Rehhagel arrived in Athens. As special envoy for Friendship to support Greeks. Assigned by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Landing at Athens airport on Sunday, Rehhagel told reporters:

“I spent nine wonderful year here, I wish whoever comes here lives as happy as I did. I don’t know about politics, however I do know I came in a difficult period.

In such difficult periods, all smart people sit around a table to find one or more solutions. Greece and the Greeks should know that neither Germany nor anybody else will let them down.

I come to encourage and boost Greek-German relations.”

Otto Rehhagel was accompanied by the other Merkels’ envoy H-J Fuchtel.

The former trainer of Greek national soccer team will stay three days in Athens and have a full program. He will have meetings with the Tourism Minister and the Interior Minister.

He will attend two friendly soccer matches between schools students, an event organized by the Hotel Association and he will hold a press conference.

Originally it was planned that Rehhagel would also meet the Greek president and the Prime Minister. but at least, the President saw no reason for such a meeting.

PS I understand Rehhagel should meet the Tourism Minister to boost German tourism in Greece but the Interior Minister? Does he want to be briefed on the municipalities reconstruction, the domain of Fuchtel? Or hear about the progress in the lay-offs in the public sector?

*Alte Herren (‘old gentlemen’) are footballers who are 35 and over and play in teams and leagues of their own. The description comes from student fraternities.

*Stammtisch (regulars´ table in a wine cellar). Stammtisch describes  an informal group meeting held on a regular basis, and also the (usually large, often round) table around which the group meets. A Stammtisch is not a structured meeting, but rather a friendly get-together.

Traditionally, the meeting table is marked with a somewhat elaborate sign reserving it for regulars. Historically, such a meeting might involve socialising, card playing, and often political or philosophical discussions. The words „Stammtischpolitik“ (Stammtisch politics) and „Stammtischniveau“ (Stammtisch level), describe the simplified nature of Stammtisch discussions, and have an established metaphorical usage in describing simplified political and social discussions beyond the Stammtisch itself.

Especially in rural areas and smaller villages, being part of the Stammtisch was often related to a certain social status. In the second half of the 19th century a Stammtisch typically consisted of local dignitaries such as the mayor, doctor, pharmacist, teacher, forester or wealthy farmers.