On one side stands a state hollowed out by corruption and unable to pay its debts, on the other multinationals who have raked in their profits for years by bribing politicians. Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that Greece and the German company Siemens are about to enter into a legal compromise "meant to draw a line under the past and pave the way for 'clean' investments in the future."

Indeed, Siemens, like other large companies such as Daimler, MAN and Ferrostal, had for years been propping up the corrupt system that now threatens to sink Athens by copiously greasing Greek officials’ palms to win lucrative contracts, such as the modernisation of the Hellenic telephone network, the 2004 Olympics security system, and the delivery of submarines. Unable to pay its bills, the Greek state owes €150 million to Siemens. Under the terms of the compromise Siemens will write off €80 million of that debt and pay a fine, but may now participate in other projects worth €170 million, such as the expansion of the Athens metro.

This is the last legal compromise being discussed with countries where the company had acted illegally – notably in Argentina and the United States. The agreement, called the "Integrity Pact" by the Greeks and "self-purification" by Siemen’s new management, is supposed to become the model for future investments in Greece, now a "trusted partner", notes the paper.