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Varoufakis-Schaueble: “They agreed to disagree” but things not hopeless- Live blogging from Athens

The crucial meeting between Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble started at ten minutes ago in Berlin. The meeting takes place in the shadow of European Central Bank decision Wednesday night to stop accepting Greek bonds as collateral for granting liguidity. The ECB decision prompted a statement by the Greek Finance Ministry issued short after midnight. In this, the Greek FinMin stressed

“that the Greek banking system is “adequately capitalized and fully protected through access to the Emergency Liquidity Assistance” and that the ECB puts pressure on the Eurogroup to proceed rapidly to a new agreement between Greece and its partners.” (full statement here)

International economists and journalists saw in ECB “a political decision” and pointed at “Germany behind this”, while Greek media commented that this was “a very loud message to the Greek government.”

The atmosphere between Germany and Greece turned more sour as  Wednesday afternoon, a document with German positions to Greek proposals was leaked to Reuters.

In this document, Germany demands from the SYRIZA-led coalition government to “call off all the anti-austerity measures” it had publicly announced after the elections of January 25th 2015. the document was leaked.

Both the document and the ECB decision come just days before the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition officially announce their program – expected in upcoming weekend.

As expected Athens Stock Exchange started with -9%, however after the meeting started in Berlin, looses are being limited to -5.5%.

I’ll try to monitor as many media and sources as possible, and bring over the mood in Greece

Live Blogging:

1:05 pm

Greek media report that the Varoufakis-Schaeuble meeting started in a rather tense atmosphere  “No hand shake,” reported ANT1 TV.

varoufakis schaeuble1

 1:19 pm

On ECD decision: “Greek Republic does not blackmail and does not get blackmailed.” Government sources commented this morning to Greek media.

1:23 pm

There is a campaign on social media, calling for a rally at Syntagma square in front of the Greek Parliament to protest the ECB decision.

Rally at 6 pm Thursday: Athens and Thessaloniki

1:29 pm


“Alert! the lab rat is escaping!”

 
1:34 pm

Varoufakis – Schaeble press conference is expected to start soon.

German Finance Ministry has a Live Stream with German and English simultaneous translation here.

 

1:40 pm

In Greek social media there are calls to boycott German products


translation: “If Germany blackmail us, nobody should buy German products. End the blackmails.”
 

1:44 pm
What actually the Greek government expects from Germany is to accept negotiations on the Greek debt.

1:46 pm

Government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said earlier today Greece is not using blackmail in its bid to win over bailout creditors, but “will not be blackmailed” either.

1:48 pm

Varoufakis – Schaeuble press conference to start any minute now. It was scheduled for 12:30 GER time.

Everyone is wondering why the meeting takes too long: “teach each other? persuade each other? negotiate with each other? fight with each other? or hug each other?”

1:58 pm

Dozens of German left party Die Linke have gathered outside the German Finance Ministry cheering Varoufakis and holding banners reading “We start with Greece, we change Europe.”

die linke varoufakis

1:50 pm

PM Tsipras to have telephone conversation with Russian President Putin

High-ranking government source told media, that PM Alexis Tsipras will have a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin later today.

Greece wants to broaden the spectrum of intense negotiations and the pressure tools towards German intransigence.

The high-ranking official said also that the conversation will take place after Putin’s request, who shows strong interest for the moves of the Greek government.”

2:15 pm
Athens News Agency reports that Varoufakis-Schaeuble meeting concluded. Press conference in a couple of minutes.

Please, tune in directly with the Live Stream of German Finance Ministry (also simultaneous English translation available)

Link: http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/Web/DE/Service/Mediathek/LiveStream/livestream.html

2:18 pm
Press conference started.

Schaeuble speaks:

Glad to meet and get to know the new Greek FinMin.

We talked thoroughly, even if not always in agreement.

There is progress but still a lot to be done.

Greece belongs to the Euro!

We agreed that we disagree!

We have duty to seek for common solutions (KTG note: #phew!)

For us there is no agenda for a “German Europe”.

As for the Greek gov’t program, we agree understand that the rich have to make bigger contributions to funding. We offered -as in the past – assistance in the creation of a tax evasion combat.

We have current currency but different economic policies.

Greece has to have access to the markets.

I want to stress that Germany tries at the best way.

For the eurozone policy to change there has to be a new treaty.

(sorry for the delays, no access to German FinMin live stream, state NERIT TV translation is bad with huge delays.)

2:37: Athens Stock Exchange not impressed by Schaeuble? -5.54% at 801.05 units

Varoufakis speaking:

it’s time to put an end to Greece’s debt crisis.

Greek government will offer a “frenzy of reasonableness!”

Reforms over last 5 years have been a fig leaf covering real problems in #Greece. That’s why we were voted in.

What we are asking for is time to present roadmap for short-term and medium-term (solutions).

We ask one of the most precious things: time.

We need a short extension to present a proper program.

Greece and EU missed the chance in 2010 to solve the problem, big error via a list of reforms.

My message to the German people is our strong commitment to say the things as they are.

Journos questions & answers

Varoufakis:

I don’t think we have the right to delay paying back our bailout.

Greece was given a lot of money but it went to service an unsustainable debt.

Let’s be clear we do everything possible to avoid a default.

…. the rest you can read in other media websites like Guardian’s Live.

press conference concluded

Result of Varoufakis-Schaeuble meeting:

They agreed that they disagree on some points, but the German FinMin did not close the window for some negotiations.

2:59 pm

In other Greek news… while Varoufakis and Schaeuble were talking and chatting in Berlin:

“Russian President Valdimir Putin had a phone conversation with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and invited him to Moscow” a high-ranking Russian source told Reuters, Greek state NERIT TV reported.

3:13 pm

Athens stock Exchange just -3.03% at 811.23 units after Varoufakis-Schaeuble press conference.

3:15 pm

Aha-effect!

3:16 pm

worth mentioning: when Greek journalist asked Schaeuble about German companies like SIEMENS bribing Greek politicians, Schaeuble replied:

“There is tax evasion in Germany, Germany does its best to combat tax evasion” and quoted Goethe’s famous “Everybody sweeps in front of his door.”

live Blogging has concluded.
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4 comments

  1. Hi KTG,

    here is the full video of the press conference (German/English)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB3PW5O2TeM&feature=youtu.be

    watch it closely. I am amazed. Schäuble confirms the demand of Varoufakis of not negotiating with Troika any longer, but with the institutions individually. Perfekt harmony. And: They are even “per Du”! Watch minute 54! Schäuble calls him “Yanis”