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The little Caesar of EWG, Thomas Wieser: Only SYRIZA really embraced bailout reforms

He couldn’t help and couldn’t hide his political schadenfreude over the left-wing government of Greece. The man who rejected any early attempt by SYRIZA for relaxed austerity measures, the outgoing chairman of the non-institutional Euro Working Group that has exercised his full non-authorized power to raise or drawn Greece,  the little Austrian Caesar, Thomas Wieser… He said that no other Greek government had embraced economic reforms linked to bailout programs like the SYRIZA-led coalition.

The Austrian official, who led the EWG for six years, made his assessment in an interview with Swiss Newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung in response to a reporter’s question about Greece’s post-bailout prospects.

After eight years of adjustment programs, Greece is not only able to stand on its feet but obliged to do so, Wieser told the newspaper.

Acknowledging that such austerity programs have an adverse impact on the domestic political system, Wieser also conceded that years of reforms have not turned Greece into Switzerland or Luxembourg but have eradicated the major imbalances and errors.”

He noted, however, that major change to society has yet to come, observing that Ireland achieved progress in this area, and to a lesser extent Spain, Portugal and Cyprus.

“In Greece we don’t see this yet,” he said. “There is a tendency to attribute responsibility to foreign powers,” he adding, underlining the importance of Greek authorities assuming full ownership of the program.

As for the initial aggressive negotiating tactics of the SYRIZA-led government, spearheaded by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Wieser said it was “an erroneous strategy that cost the Greek people lots of money, growth and employment.”

Former Greek minister of finance Yanis Varoufakis has claimed that Wieser holds considerable power within the Eurogroup, stating he “has been part of every policy and every coup that resulted in Greece’s immolation and Europe’s ignominy.” Sven Giegold, MEP of the German Green Party, has stated in his correspondence with Varoufakis that Wieser “is acting under the auspices of representatives of all finance ministries in the Eurozone which form the Eurozone Working Group.

Wiser is retiring leaving the EWG in the next days and goes to retirement before even reaching the age of 64. We will never hear from him again except when he recalls om media how successful he was in his office – or even writes his memoirs about his glorious days in the EWG.

Wieser is the third of the old guard to go after Schaeuble and Dijsselbloem.

Wieser interview in German here.

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