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
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.