Outgoing German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has advised Greece to keep to its reform agenda and to stop blaming others for its debt crisis. Schaeuble, who is stepping down after eight years, has consistently stuck to his belief in austerity and has long been against further debt relief; a stance that has put him at odds with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of Greece’s creditors.
“When you ask others for loans, you cannot insult them for granting the loans. It doesn’t make sense. Greece’s problems are Greece’s problems,” the conservative Christian Democrat said in an interview with the Kathimerini editor Alexis Papachelas aired in Athens yesterday.
Schaeuble also revealed how he told the then main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras in 2014 that he hoped he would not win the upcoming 2015 general election because he would not be able to keep his laughable promise of ‘zero austerity’ to the Greek people. He said he has also considered the hypothetical scenario of a ‘time out’ for Greece from the Eurozone with a former Greek finance minister, although the idea was rejected. “This wasn’t a German parliament decision, it was a Greek government decision,” he said.
While he said that the bailout program should end in 2018 as planned, he stressed that he does not believe that lenders should lower the country’s fiscal targets or offer further debt relief: “Greece’s challenge over the next decade is not its debt, but to continue its course for an uninterrupted improvement in its economy. This year’s performance is good, but there can be no backtracking,” he added.