Scourge of the Greeks: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble
Veteran German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble “indulged himself with some patronizing comments” after prevailing over the Greek government in debt negotiations last week, observed economics correspondent Phillip Inman at The Guardian.
Schauble said of his Greek opponents in the Syriza party, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, “Being in government is a date with reality, and reality is often not as nice as a dream.” His smugness recalls the arrogance of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously claimed in the 1980s that “there is no alternative” to neoliberal economic reforms.
Copious empirical research shows that the austerity Schauble and his peers have inflicted on Europe over the past half-decade destroys economies rather than preserves them. His arrogance is therefore that of the powerful, not the informed. He is hypocritical too, given that the willingness of the Allied nations to forgive Germany’s debts after World War II enabled the prosperity that its citizens — Schauble included — enjoy today.
Disturbingly for those who acknowledge these facts, according to statements and findings collected by the analytical political-economy site Open Europe, much of the German public and leading members of the press share Schauble’s self-serving near-sightedness:
A new Emnid poll for N24 finds that 52% of Germans think that the demands made by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis are “outrageous,” 41% say they are “naive,” 25% say they are “strategically skillful,” while 13% said they “secretly admire” Tsipras and Varoufakis.”
German tabloid Bild responded to the conclusion of the negotiations with the headline, “Finally someone says ‘no’ to the bankrupt Greeks. Germany says: Thank you Wolfgang Schauble!” It then printed in its pages:
“Billions in gifts to the Greek people – and we should pay for it! Schauble is not doing this any longer!”
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, foreign policy editor for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote:
It is time that the Tsipras government grasps reality, and recognizes who is the creditor and who is the debtor – it must understand how great the resentment is in many European countries over the “Greece” issue. Many citizens are sick of it; this is also nourishing annoyance at Europe.
Apparently the Greek government thinks that it could hold its partners for fools. At times, it has abused the Brussels stage for theatrical performances, sometimes there are signs of program change, and then it starts all over again. This is not serious.
As one Truthdig reader commented privately to this blogger, “If this piece from Open Europe accurately describes the majority view of the press, including some of the leftist press, then we see some more of the fright felt by Syriza’s leaders.”
Read more of the comments here.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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