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Greek – German “War of Words” escalates and turns nasty

There is no cure for the Greek – German relations with insults and unacceptable descriptions to land into the minefields of both sides. There seems to be no sight of the verbal crisis diffusion, unless, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble goes home and devotes himself to his rose garden. His hostile attitude and obsessed behavior towards Greece’s new government in general and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in particular has gone out of control, violating any rules of diplomacy and etiquette. In the latest episode of the Greek – German drama, Schaeuble -in his own words – told his Greek counterpart right in the face that he was “foolishly naive” and prompted angry reactions from Athens. But Greece stroke back with the renewing the WWII reparations form Germany and even threatened to confiscate German state property.

During the last 24 hours, the rhetoric between the two countries has really turned  nasty.

Schaeuble’s insulting statements

After the ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday, Wolfgang Schaeuble felt the inner pressing need to provoke Greeks by mentioning the No-No word “Troika” – four times in total.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble seems to fight out a kind of private feud against the Greeks. So he mentioned yesterday several times, the bad, forbidden, scandalous, libelous word for every Greek: the word “troika” (ouch!). There are words that are so indecent that they may never spoken out but Schäuble used the word yesterday at least four times. To the strong irritation of the Greeks. Probably in allusion to Schäuble Varoufakis then said:

If they miss the troika so much they can sent it to us, we will not have them.” and “Troika is a cabal of Technocrats who used to enter ministries with power play that smacked of colonial attitude. That’s finished. ” (via Finanzmarktwelt.de)

The German FinMin apparently grew taller by describing the Greek FinMin as “foolishly naive” under an outburst of laughter. Among other, he told German journalists::

“Varoufakis is the only one in Eurogroup who thinks time was not been wasted. […] I told Varoufakis he is foolishly naive in the way he deals with the media. […] Then his ideas have to be corrected. The institutions will do that together checks to be proceeded locally. The technical teams must be in Athens, Vaorufakis has signed this at the Eurogroup of 20th February. I can send him a copy. The information Varoufakis gives in interviews is totally wrong.”

Video: German with Greek subtitles

embedded by Embedded Video

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Greece’s angry reaction

Prompt was the reaction of Athens with PM Tsipras’ close aide and State Minister Nikos Pappas to say that Schaeuble’s comment were “incompatible” both with his institutional position and the European expectation for a new solution.

Pappas: “Obsession and persistence on this policy and attitude are incompatible with the path for a united and democratic Europe

Schaeuble is the main supporter of failed policies in Greece and Europe”.

“Schaueble’s statement are addressing his German and inner-political audience.”

Social Security Minister Dimitris Stratoulis described Schaeuble as “obsessed” :

“What does Mr Schaeuble think? that Greece is a banana republic, a protectorate? As Samaras and Venizelos taught him? he went so far to demand Varoufakis’ replacement. He is obsessed.”

SYRIZA-affiliated newspaper Avgi commented:

“He does not behave as a minister of a European country, but with the arrogance of a ruler. [….]  The harsh statements are supposed to serve only domestic purposes. While he does not say anything about the deficit extension for France, he plays the Unyielding against Greece to divert the discussion. “

Germany “sees” Greek attacks ahead

Oil into the fire already burning high between Greece and Germany was the decision to the Greek Parliament to proceed with the claim of WWII reparations from Germany and even confiscate German state property in Greece.

An obviously in boiling outrage MP from arch-conservative Merkel’s coalition partner CSU , Hans Michelbach warned Athens and told German daily Handelsblatt:

” Should there be Greek attacks on German property, Germany will know how to defend itself.”

Michelbach described Pappas’ comments on Schaeuble as “shabby and intemperate” and said that “Bad style was indeed something like the hallmark of the Radical coalition in Athens.”

The not-so Christian clergy

Even the Greek clergy intervened in the Greek German war of words, with Metropolit Amvrosios to hit below the belt and write in his personnel blog:

“Schaeuble is inhibited. He hates everyone who is not on wheelchair.”

Schaeuble’s second faux pas in a month

The situation is threatened to get really out of control and it is the second time within a month that Wolfgang Schaeuble reacts in a rather awkward way. On February 19th he had his press director to issue a statement and reject the Greek proposals to the Eurogroup hardly they had reached Brussels.

This prompted some German commentators to note that he had lost contact to reality and that he should resign.

It is really an awkward coincidence that German conservative sources told Reuters on Tuesday, that it was “Schaeuble who solicited support on Greece” and persuaded many of Merkel’s Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), to vote in favor of the Greek extension, last month in the German Parliament.

But then again: Peter Ramsauer, a former transport minister and leading lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc CSU wrote in German populist Bild on Monday that Greece should exit the euro zone.

“By leaving the euro zone, as Finance Minister (Wolfgang) Schaeuble has suggested, the country could make itself competitive again from a currency perspective with a new drachma,” Ramsauer wrote in Bild.

Therefore: either the Euroskeptics of the CSU leave the euro zone and declare Bavaria an independent state, or Merkel tames her Schaeuble.

schaeuble eurogroup

 at a cabinet meeting…

 

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42 comments

  1. arrogante stupido mezzo nazistucolo

    • You should recheck. The so called offence was a translation error and you do know that Germany is not the only country to decide about the money in the EU. Looking for a group of people to blame for once own bad situation because….Germany has done this mistake in the thirties Greece should not follow that path, its very dark.

  2. Lets face it: the EU is the big mistake.
    This wouldnt be happening if there was no EU.

  3. Schauble looks, acts and talks like na archetypical villain character from Hollywood films. There’s a striking resemblence with Peter Sellars’s Dr. Strangelove and it’s not because of the wheelchair.
    What he wants it to have Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc forever trapped into loans and austerity. It’ not help, it’s not structural reforms, it’s his instrument of power and humilliation.
    Schauble wanted the bailouts in the first place in order to decree its imperial rule over the periphery. Former Portuguese PM Sócrates has even stated that back in 2011 he was in close talks with Merkel, and she very much wanted to avoid another bailout, but that Schauble’s office was leaking news to the press to throw Portugal over the cliff. Sócrates said and I quote “Schauble is a son of b*tch”. And in the process German taxpayers money has been needlessly put in risk over and over again. No, he really could not care less about his taxpayers best interests, this is all about a little man’s megalomania.

    • Yes, so default the payments to Germany and leave EU.

      I’m sure Germany and EU will take a big hit for Greece leaving EU.

      But in the long run EU would be better off without Greece.
      And seems that most of the Greeks thinks so as well, so you’re all welcome to Grexit.

      • I’m not Greek, I’m Portuguese. And Germany is welcome to go back to the Deustch Mark, too. Of course, your exports would suffer greatly from na overvalued, non-competitive currency. We devalue the currency and we’re doing you a favor.
        Germany cannot pretend it is not the one who gained the most with the euro. Other have lost for it to happen. My country was amongst the fastest growing economies in 1990’s. In the 00’s, the Euro came and the growth stopped. Coincidence?

        • Well I’m not German I’m a Swede.

          And for me it would be completely fine with Southern europe would exit EU.

          Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania…

          Northern countries are pretty fed up with level of corruption and having our tax money sponsor politicians new black Mercedes SUV and houses in South / Eastern Europe.

          How much money hasn’t been spent from EU to Bulgaria / Romania on projects for roma people or similar. Where the money went everywhere else BUT the intended purpose.

          Devaluing a currency is not a good thing, you’re not doing Germany or Germans any favours. With a weaker EUR people in countries with EUR just became poorer.

          Currency devaluation is like peeing your pants in winter. At first it’s warm but it gets cold really quick.

          • Your “holier than thou” attitude is no good, it borders the line of xenophobia and racism. What makes you think that as Suede you are a more entitled human being than the people of the South of Europe? North vs. South sound a whole lot live the American Civil War to me…

            Sure, there is corruption here and all sorts of problems. No one contests the notion that our states administrations need reforms. But when people starve for the so called “reforms”, it’s time to reflect and try a better way. Our countries are the consequence of centuries of diferente policies and histories. Until 1974, the Portuguese didn’t knew democracy. At that year, the illiteracy rate was at 26%, children studied four years at elementary school and went to work to help provide for their families. Now it’s less than 0,5% and we have a whole new generation of highly qualified people with college degrees. Wouldn’t you call that a wonderful development in just over 40 years? But if the European Union has any chance to survive with its core ideals, we need as nations to stop looking at each others backgrounds and look onward to a common goal. It doesn’t matter where you came from, what matters is where you are now and where you want to go. For Europe to lead, the development of one member state cannot be achieved at the sacrifices of several others. We are all Europeans, each with their own national identities on which we take pride, but with a supranational resolve to do more together.

          • Fair enough

            And I partly agree on your reasoning and it is a wonderful development in 40 years for Portugal.

            In Sweden we’ve had our fair share of crises as well. During the 80’s we had a big housing bubble that bursted.

            It was really bad with a lot of people put on the streets; more or less.

            A lot of the rules for the banks were changed and tighten up.

            I think the big difference is responsibility, which I don’t see to the same extent in the southern countries.

            It’s in the majority of cases someone “else’s” fault and “I” as an individual cannot do anything.

            For the last 10 years I’m been living in multiple countries in Europe and I’m sorry, but most countries are living up to their stereotypes.

            Germany, Swiss, Austria, Sweden and Finland are among the most innovative countries globally (http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-innovative-countries/) also the unemployement level is those countries are also among the lowest in europe and the world…

            Greece, Italy, Spain and The Balkans have the highest numbers of unemployed and are least innovative.

            As already mentioned I moved from Sweden more then 10 years ago and have had the privilege to sample a lot of countries and culture.

            I believe if all people were like you and shared your ideals, because you strike me as a open minded and ambitious person; then these countries wouldn’t have much of a problem.

            However, there is a real problem in that the intellectual people in especially the Balkans are literally fleeing their countries because their ambition and drive cannot be utilized on the home market. They end up in Sweden, Finland, Germany and in other places where their knowledge can be utilised and where they get the opportunity to contribute.

            Take for example Greece, where it’s more or less impossible to set up a startup.
            I know, because I have been interested to invest in Greece.

            However, the administration, cutting through all the red tape and the current tax setup and the extreme hostility towards enterprises and corporate business just doesn’t make it worth it.

            The Greek state is out of money and are robbing their inhabitants on their savings, instead of seriously trying to lower their huge cost for running their state.

            Sure I do realise that it’s a huge simplification, but simply put that’s the core problem.

            I can understand that Greek are feed up with the austerity measures and neither ND or SYRIZA has provided remotely good solutions for Greece or the Greek people. They have provided solutions that has the least impact on their own members and the most impact on the people.

            If Greece are serious about solving their huge debt. Then people need to feel that they should stay and fight for improving their countries and be given the opportunity to really make a difference.

            Current path of SYRIZA is extremely hostile towards giving entrepreneurs and the private sector the tools that they so desperately needs to change and to build Greece.

          • Very good points.

  4. it takes two to argue

  5. Well I guess these comments reflects the views of a country that entered EU based on lies and deceptions.

    And yes, Greece is a banana republic in comparison with Germany.

    Yes, please feel free to leave EU and see how far down the rabbit hole you go?

    I seriously interested in seeing what Greece and Greeks can achieve own their own. Considering that every time I’m down in Greece I only hear how it’s “the governments fault” and it’s always a conspiracy…

    Greece out of EU would be a better EU for all, also for Greece!

    • Best not come to Greece in future Herr “Sweden”. Your CDU sausages will taste better in Braunschweig!

      • Yes you’re right, they will!

        And you should look around and see how your ambitious Greek friends, cousins and family are fleeing Greece for a more prosperous life in Sweden.

  6. all of this is on a very low Level.
    it does not bring anything.
    no Progress.
    no discusion.
    only Little Boy games.
    you did this and you did that.
    and this are the guys we vote for and shout represent us?
    they all shout be ashame.

  7. (oi Elada pote den petheni) that’s mean Greece will never die.Keep that in your fucking mind you germs. Always YOU GONNA PAY for what you did to Greece during the ww2.You owe to greece so shut up and pay. Buzuki will never end.Stin ygeia mas re paidia!!!

    • what about the massaker of 1974 where greece military killed turkish families on Zypress? Hope families recieve payment from greece soon.

  8. Dimitris Stratoulis comment made me chuckle.
    I know he meant it as a rhetorical question but: Yes, Dimitris – present day Greece is the exact definiton of a Banana Republic.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic

      “Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country, whose economy is largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. feta,tourism,olive oil. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites. This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country’s economy.”

      Yup, sounds about right.

  9. keeptalkinggreece

    Talking about banana republic… I feel like going buy some bananas.

  10. An exceptionally eloquent statement which says it all:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD0Qugb0PPg

    • What a cute opinion. Of course there is a way. If you really want to get rid of the treaties drop out of the union. There can’t be a democratic choice against the treaties, nor should there be one. The only acceptable democratic choice that could be considered “against” the treaties is leaving the union.

      Of course that entails a whole different set of consequences. All in all his statement is pretty naive and without substance.

      So if you want to be part of the union, you have to accept the terms if not, well you can always leave.

      • Franz:

        You seem to miss the point. The union turned out to be of false promises.

        As such the union has to pay huge damages to those damaged by its false promises.

        You can’t be a revisionist and say leave after your customer caught you in the act of theft. You go to jail for this.

        • Oh? Really false promises? And what would those be? Easier trade? Check. Better economic conditions abroad? Check. A better political climate abroad Europe for the majority of members? Check.

          In his entire blurp of pseudo political nonesense he mentioned how greek elections did not matter and not much else, of course they did not matter. What did people expect? The union consists out of several countries just because one tiny nation votes, within it’s borders to change their course doesn’t mean the rest of the union will change everything or anything just so that that country will have it’s way.

          That is what I said. If you thought that just because Greece elected an anti austerity goverment it would mean an end of austerity you haven’t thought this through. Because the rest of the union has to agree, afterall there are many countries in the union. If that is not to the liking of Greece or Syriza for that matter, they will have to leave. At least if they want to keep their promises. I am not saying they should leave, nor that there is no room for critique, nor that I agree with austerity, but the guy’s opinion on this matter is laughable.

          The alternative would be to talk with the entire EU and to call for an referendum on this matter, but as the last weeks have shown; Greece has no supporters in this matter and it won’t happen. So yes in a union comprised of many countries one country’s election does not matter, for obvious reasons.

  11. Well, I’m Bavarian. We and the CSU are not the way you seem to think. The CSU comprises of many different opinions and has been governing Bavaria for more than 60 years (mostly successfully I would say). Yes, quite a few Bavarians would welcome, if we became independent, but rather like Scotland, definitely being part of the EU and the Euro. Ramsauer just jumped on the opinion of Gauweiler (before Ramsauer voted in favor of the two “rescue packages for Greece”). Meanwhile Peter Gauweiler has held the same opinion as Sahra Wagenknecht, who is a leading figure of “Die Linke” (German equivalent to Syriza). They argue that the credits to Greece only served the banks and not the people. Unfortunately (in my opinion) this has long been overheard in Germany, but is slowly sinking in.

    Mr Schäubles behaviour is not very diplomatic, but I must admit most of us Germans are quite direct, saying what they think. So I do appreciate confronting us frankly with war reparations. Personally, I think Greece has a point and should get the money they should have received much earlier. That was top news today and has been adressed quite objectively in Tagesschau (by far most popular TV news)

    • keeptalkinggreece

      sober approach

      • Zero chance of success for the reparations though. Since the final peace treaty of 1990, no country can ask for reparations of the former third reich. Blame international law for it if you will, but what your national courts decide really does not matter outside of your borders.

        And according to international law, once the hostilities have been settled no reparations can be demanded. Individuals might demand compensation, but that was also handled in 1960 in Greece’s case.

        So unless both countries are at war, in which case neither country would need to uphold their end of the bargain, there won’t be reparations. Oh yeah and there is thst thing about first having to win the war before being able to demand reparations, which seems unlikely right now.

        So yeah nice fantasy, but it won’t happen, no matter how much Syriza stirs the populism drums.

  12. Franz-

    Are you suggesting that that the repayment of the forced loans is “reparations”? Since Germany chose the “legal” route of taking Greek money in the form of loans, do those loans fall into the category of damages or injury inflicted by war? Not that I am an authority on the subject, but our training at the US Naval War College clearly made a distinction between the existing voluntary legal obligations of the defeated party and the reparations responsibilities imposed upon them.

    But even earlier in my education, at the Army Command and General Staff College in 1983, the idea of reparations was made quite clear by a visiting German Senior Army Officer who could speak freely under the College’s “non-attribution” policy. When, during a seminar on Post WWII reconstruction of Germany, a student virtually praised Germany’s reparations as if they were a German offering of amends and were “dutifully being paid by Germany”, the German General said something to the effect of the following:

    Young man, from the earliest records of history, there is a recurring theme of the victor extracting tribute from the vanquished. Thus the phrase, “To the victor belongs the spoils.” However, in this century, treatment of the vanquished took on a somewhat more moral character, in that in the two World Wars, the vanquished were the initiating aggressors, and rather than tribute, reparations were called for to compensate for the some of the material, but not human, damages inflicted. The WWII reparations were imposed upon Germany as a price for damages we caused. They cannot in any manner be seen as our offering any more than your paying a fine for breaking the law. Secondly, a significant portion of the reparations were extracted, not paid. Third, the monetary portion of reparations, were effectively halved by the London Conference of 1953. Thus, even though it has appeared that we are “paying”, we have been graciously been given a discounted price on that which is being imposed. Please do not act as if we, the German people and their government, should be congratulated for the reparations we have paid and are still yet to pay. It is not a badge of honor. It cannot negate the horrors and cost to others of the war one chose to initiate. Every penny is a penny of shame.

    • And there you have the dilemma. If Greece choses to call for reparations then they have no case, since the question of reparations was settled completely in 1990 and in 1956(for west germany). No matter how you or some officer might feel about this. It is simply a matter of international law and according to that the question of reparations is off the table. So is individual compensation.

      Hence my remark that there is zero chance for reparations, since the claim has no legal ground because reparations are already paid.

      Now if Athens goes ahead and wants to claim that it was a legal loan, it would be that; a legal loan by the former third reich at zero % interest. This could be demanded, however it would then be up to the international court to decide if it was indeed a legal loan, or part of the damage that was inflicted to Greece during occupation, since the zero % loan was most likely forced, in which case it could fall under the damages and thus would have been part of the reparations. Which would mean that it would be off the table as well. Whether or not it is I can’t say, that is up to the international court.

      Even IF it is recognized as a legal loan it would amount to little more than a droplet on a hot stone and certainly not what the Greeks claim. As you probably can understand in case of an international law suit both Greece and Germany will have to accept international experts when it comes to the numbers, since both countrie’s experts are biased.

      To the German public and our Government there is no distinction between reparations and enforced payments, we paid, for what reason is irrelevant to us. International law has been satisfied, whether or not the Greeks are happy with that is not relevant. In the same manner that it does not matter, legally, if the people of Iraq are satisfied, or Vietnam. The feelings of a country and it’s people are irrelevant when it comes to the law.

      Now does that mean that I think that Germany should not pay even a symbolic amount? Well we could do that, but who decides when the payment is sufficient? When is the line drawn? When is the “moral” debt paid? The answer is, never. Trying to satsify an ultimately never ending demand for repayment for “what we have done” is a foolish thing to do. Hence I say yes, don’t pay. If the relations and the behavior of Greece would have been different I would see things in a different light.

      If I would have asked myself the same question 2 years ago I would have probalby said yes let’s pay at least a symbolic amount as a gesture of good will.

  13. Vladimire Putin has a constant & continuous smile on his face.
    BRICS :- is the new Global Banking System & business is booming.
    GLOBAL CORPORATE – who were burned by the Western Banks FRENZIED GAMBLING STUNTS in 2008
    Are seeking out RELIABLE & TRUSTWORTHY MONEY DEALS
    ENTER BRICS –
    The Western Banks will need their government lackeys to print even more currency so that they don’t collapse.
    But how long can it go on for.

    MR. YANNIS VAROUFAKIS SIR. IS AN ARIES – TRUST ME – HE CAN DISH IT OUT SO THAT IT HURTS.
    GO GREECE !

    • Tell that to the failing economy of russia.

    • BRICS, “RELIABLE & TRUSTWORTHY” now that’s an oxymoron!

      I’ve been working with companies in that region since the early 2000’s.
      And reliable and trustworthy is what I would put lowest on the list of how to describe that region.

      Companies that grow too big are simply taken over by people close to the new Tsar Putin.

      Know of several occurrences where the owner and manger comes to the office, just to be met by changed lock and “changed” ownership.

      And by some coincidence their visa just expired and they have to leave the country.

      Yeah, doing business in BRICS is like running in a minefield, it’s great until shit blows up.

  14. Franz

    I agree that the matter would have to go to an international court to determine if the loan was legal or not (forced, and thus categorized as reparations). I am not about to speculate on a possible outcome. The matter of reparations, as a retired, professional soldier, leave me with somewhat ambiguous feelings, as it is still the victor extracting tribute, no matter how much of a “moral face” you put on it. It is, in many ways similar to war crimes trials, where the practice in the 20th Century has basically been the victor trying the vanquished from the lowest level to the top. Rarely has a member of the victorious force been tried, and when they are, it’s usually troops in the lower ranks.

    I think we are seeing a lot of theater right now, on both sides of the table. Form is often trumping substance, such as ministers chastising fashion sense. The Council of Finance Ministers is not a diplomatic body, but a deliberative one. By the dress standards they proclaim, Albert Einstein would be ignored. However, if I am not mistaken, Mr Varoufakis is the only truly “credentialed” economist in the group, and I’m sure some players feel disadvantaged by this.

    • What does your last statement have to do with the subject of reparations or possible loan repayments? Just curious because I don’t see the connection.

      I do agree that it is a lot of show, on both sides. I might even go so far as to say that it is an attempt to rally some support in the Greek electorate due to what some parts of the population consider failed negotiations, though that is of course gross speculation on my part.

  15. Franz

    I was just closing the above comment with a return to the original title about a “War of Words”. People in Greece as suffering seriously, and the attention of the officials charge with addressing that has turned to war reparations silliness and the apparel choices made. Does not leave me with any feeling that there is concern for the real victims, the average Greek.