Germany and France have both made public pronouncements on Greece as election campaigning there gets going. Sonia Legg asks why they've weighed into the debate and could it backfire?
It takes a bit of pluck to take part in the annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony in Greece. But this icy swim is one of the most important celebrations of the Greek Orthodox religion. The country could be about to take another plunge too. Voters go the polls in less than three weeks - who they choose to run the country could have a ripple effect across the euro zone. A new government could try to restructure Greek debt - or even leave the euro - and that's making markets nervous, says CIBC's Jeremy Stretch (SOUNDBITE) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF FOREX STRATEGY AT CIBC, SAYING: "It may well be the case that there are plenty of additional firewalls in place which weren't available to the euro zone back when we had previous episodes of concern about a member exiting, but until we test those mechanisms it is very difficult to suggest with any degree of confidence that they will be totally successful." Germany and France have both been dangling the fear of a possible Greek exit from the euro. Some have accused them of playing a poker-style game. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) 29-YEAR-OLD ATHENS RESIDENT, NIKKI KALOUDI, SAYING: "It's alarmism, possibly so they can steer us again, guide our vote. Obviously they will play this game and of course we expect it." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) 35-YEAR-OLD ATHENS RESIDENT, VASILIS SAYING: "I don't believe our leaving the euro would be that much of a problem, I think we'd be in the same mess. We're at zero, it can't get worse." The leader of Greece's main opposition party says it's not his left-wing Syriza that's the problem. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) MAIN GREEK OPPOSITION SYRIZA PARTY LEADER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "It's the policies of Mrs. Merkel that are a threat to Europe. Europe is endangered by neoliberalism and its consequences, and the economic division between its north and the south." Germany and France could be partly preaching to a domestic audience. They don't want to be seen to be taking on yet more Greek debt. (SOUNDBITE) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF FOREX STRATEGY AT CIBC, SAYING: "Ultimately, while it may be spoken in private that Merkel et al are quite happy to discuss the exit of Greece, I think the potential ramifications of that breaking of the irrevocability regarding the euro zone could actually ultimately suggest that some degree of compromise will be brokered." Either way it's likely to be a rough ride for many Greeks. The good luck these swimmers are supposed to get by retrieving the cross could be very welcome.