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Time for Schaeuble to go home: German op-eds speak of “lost contact to reality”

The decision of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to reject right away the Greek request for extension of the loan agreement has stunned every one: officials in EU and the IMF, journalists, and even Schaeuble German coalition partners. In a psychologically, economically and politically hard to explain reaction, FinMin Schaeuble showed to the world that Germany can speak for the whole of the Eurogroup without even bothering to ask his colleagues about their opinion.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi and French PM Manuel Valls expressed solidarity with Greece, EU Commission President described the Greek request as “positive sign.”

Official criticism to Schaeuble came first from his own coalition government.

Deputy-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) declared that that one should use the new Greek approach as a starting point for negotiations and not publicly reject it,” Gabriel told German media. Gabriel said further that Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem and the European Commission “should be given a chance for serious negotiations with Greece and then evaluate the results. It is too early for a NO,” he added.

German Op-eds against Schaeuble

Already in the afternoon, several articles appeared in German websites, sharply criticizing Schaueble for his reaction.

I think, it is the first time since the beginning of the Greek crisis that I read in German media such opinion articles about Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

In two articles, both authors accused Schaeuble of “loss of reality”, in one the interpretation of his action was that he hidden threatened with resignation.

Below you will find short summaries of two op-eds, full articles are in German:

n-tv: Schäuble dreams of kleptocrats

Finance Minister Schäuble makes no effort to hide his contempt for the new Greek government. His praise for their predecessors reveals a certain loss of reality.

When one listens to Wolfgang Schäuble, one might think, everything was good in Greece and thus until the recent elections. The old Greek government had ensured growth and reform, Greece found itself on the way to a better future. It is this fundamentally false interpretation of reality, that stands on the way for a new agreement with Greece.

The author makes reference to unemployment rates, to “reforms that were “smoke screen” and the failure of the previous government to combat corruption and clientelism. Asking Schaeuble whether he would “prefer to have back the old government,” the author notes:

“That Greek voters sent the kleptocrats home should be cheerfully welcomed by Schaeuble. However the international solidarity with the political establishment and the fear of new political powers is obviously stronger. At the end of the day, Schaeuble doesn’t care about unemployment or corruption.” (full article in private network N-TV.de)

A similar approach towards Schaeuble is also to be read in political and economics blog “Wiesaussieht“.

The resignation offer of German Finance Minister

“Obviously, the Finance Minister has lost track. How could it be of help if -as in the past – the government in Athens signs his demands and make in practice exactly the opposite? Or are his demands simple inapplicable?

He knows every well what has been applied and what not,as he has been in this office since the beginning of the crisis”

The author notes that the austerity program would have never been formulated in this “ridig” way, if it wasn’t for Schaeuble, and adds:

” Even the IMF considered the German ideas as illusory and has never expressed the opinion that they would solve Greece’s economic problems.”

“Therein, this may be now the real problem and an explanation of why Schaeuble rejected so quickly the Greek request.

The Finance Minister obviously considered the Greek request as a provocation. Or as a document proving his disillusionment. Schaeuble’s quick and ill-considered action also contradicts all the policy mechanisms of the EU, it binds the Chancellor and the German coalition, the Eurogroup ministers, the EU Commission President.

He has “made a mistake,”, “played the Chicken Game” and “it will be difficult for him to negotiate in Brussels on Friday”.

“Schaeuble’s action can be interpreted politically as a blatant threat to resign.

“We can consider his hidden threat to resign as a resignation offer. One should accept it.” (full article Wiesaussieht)


Thursday afternoon,
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had a 50-minute long phone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel. She has a “milder attitude” Greek media report.

Well… Yesterday, I saw a video of Merkel speaking at a CDU meeting about “solidarity with Greece, Ireland etc” with clenched fists. This body language was …scary!

PS  It would be  an interesting development at the end of the Greek crisis, to see Schaeuble heading home in the nice calm environment full of Germans’ favorite flower: the red geranium

schaeuble No na

 picture by Marianne

With such antipathy towards a EU- and EZ-member country, he is unable to negotiate even a dot or a semicolon. Sorry.

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12 comments

  1. Red Geranium? Shouldn’t it read black? If he is blind against reality perhaps he also is blind…? Anyway: he really should resign.

  2. Correction: Gabriel stated that the letter should be merely regarded as a starting point for negotiations, not as their end.

    There was no critique in his statement, he merely stated that he sees the need for more negotiations.

    • that’s what I wrote no? I quoted DIE ZEIT

      • I quoted him from the original interview. I just wanted to point out that he did not offer critique. You specifically pointed out that the german FM received critique from the governing coalition of which Gabriel is a part of while infact he did not do that.

        • http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2015-02/wolfgang-schaeuble-eurokrise
          Care to tell us what the headline

          Gabriel kritisiert Schäubles Nein

          translates into? not critique???
          not to mention this sentence

          Die SPD kritisiert die harsche Haltung von Bundesfinanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) in der Griechenland-Rettung.

          What does “kritisiert” translate into, if not “critises” (= gives critique)???
          Or is the German press guilty of misinterpreting the german language?

          And this

          At the end of the day, Schaeuble doesn’t care about unemployment or corruption.

          is of course hitting the nail right on the head…

          After the CDU was defeated in the 1998 federal election, Schäuble became chairman of the CDU. He gave up this post in 2000 in the wake of the party financing scandal, over the acceptance of cash donation over DM 100,000 contributed by the arms dealer and lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber back in 1994. Schäuble’s successor was Angela Merkel.

          (Wikipedia)

          As I’ve said many times before, any politician, anywhere in the world, who ever gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar should be banned for life from ever holding any position in politics, civil service or systemic industry (banking, energy etc) ever again. They should NEVER be given a powerful position like the one Schäuble currently holds. NEVER!

          • That is what the Zeit claims. I watched the original interview where Gabriel SAID the supposed critique. Which it was not.

            In the same way the FM’s verdict was confirmed today by the SPD, they merely said they would have worded it differently, but that they would agree with his sentiment.

            • So, Die Zeit doesn’t understand German, or maybe they simply don’t play word games and call a spade a spade?

  3. Though it may be shocking to others, we Germans had to get used to his behaviour (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ngm-rX_XZv0 ; his speaker was so humiliated that he eventually resigned). He also took money from a weapons dealer (Karl-Heinz Schreiber) 20 years ago. In the course of that affair he was toppled by Merkel, but she still needed him to keep her party together. Nobody would want him as boss or neighbour (in contrast to Angela Merkel, who really lives a decent life).

  4. As I’ve said many times before, any politician, anywhere in the world, who ever gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar should be banned for life from ever holding any position in politics, civil service or systemic industry (banking, energy etc) ever again. They should NEVER be given a powerful position like the one Schäuble currently holds. NEVER!

    Wouldn’t that be a major problem for Greek politicians 😉

  5. For the past crew it would be indeed be, and should be. It should also be pursued as criminality. The new breed is so far untainted, which is as far as I can see very much a problem for the “established” politicians. This is not about being fashion hooligans, this is about not playing it “by the rules”. Whose rules is of course the very big question….

  6. I agree with ephilant. My opinion why Schauble chucked a tantrum. Is that he and his neo-libral party. Liked the way they controlled the old Greek governments. It is in their interests to keep a member state in debt. Because they make money on it. Germany made billions of Euros in interest rates from Greece since 2010. And they call the shots and make the terms that suits just them. “The German Neo-Liberals” (the rich industrialists). They had paved the way so that German business takes hold of everything in Greece Telecommunications, Water Facilities, Power Facilities, Super Markets, Food Producers, Everything.

    But guess what SYRIZA won the elections and it messed up their plans. That is why in the Media the Germans were urging the Greek voters not to make a mistake and vote against the current pre January 25 government.

    They were trying to influence the democratic values of another nation. Is that not internationally illegal?