Obsessed to the bone against the Greece’s left-wing government. In his last – and probably first – interview to a Greek television channel, former German Finance Minister Wolfgang “Austerity” Schaeuble poured his poison drop by drop on open wounds and enjoyed for one more time his unerring attitude and his absolute Know-it-all and Know-it-better. The Greek debt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his arch foe Yanis Varoufakis were the issues that topped the interview. The former FinMin lied on Grexit and he didn’t not even blush.
In an interview to private Skai TV, the 75-year-old Eurozone ruler and defender of “austerity till you die” washed his hands in innocence and even lied about the Schaeuble-made Grexit proposal. claiming among others that it was not him who proposed a 5-year Grexit. Still obsessed with the left-wing government, the conservative Christian-Democrat politician could not resist the temptation and blame prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his arch foe Yanis Varoufakis for all the Greek problems. He urged Athens to stick to the reforms and stop blaming others for its fiscal problems.
Schaeuble drew a sanctimonious picture of himself and a sinister one of Varoufakis.
Referring to the turbulent first half year of 2015, Schaeuble pointed out that he cannot estimated the cost of the Varoufakis period, and wondered why Greece did not proceed with reforms at that time.
For him personally, what Varoufakis says in his book “Adults in the Room” is “far form reality” and “I cannot really deal with these things,” he said.
Hours after the interview broadcast, Varoufakis posted an open letter to Schaeuble on his personal website challenging him to be more specific about his allegations instead of vague statements.
I read carefully and listened your recent statements in response to journalistic questions emanating from my recent book “Adults in the Room” relating to our conversations during the first half of 2015.
I have a proposal for you. Instead of vague statements and personal put down lines, I invite you to point out specific pages and paragraphs in my book where I misrepresented something that you told me during that period (e.g. your expressed view that the 3rd Greek Loan and accompanying Memorandum of Understanding that I refused to sign, and which was signed after my resignation, would be bad for Greece; or, even more strongly, your view that, had I signed it, I would have to answer to my people).
On the issue of Grexit, and asked if he ever suggested a “time out” on Greece’s participation in the eurozone, Schaeuble’s first reaction was a few seconds of silence, shook his head negatively and finally said.
Video: 0:56 . “We know that this happened,” journalist Alexis Papachelas says while Schaeuble keeps shaking his head.
“No, the truth is this: At that critical time, when Prime Minister Tsipras accepted the terms and was proceeding to elections, the vast majority of the eurozone finance ministers, practically all of them, felt it would be best for Greece to take a time out from the support of the European solidarity. Of course, it was always clear, that nobody could put pressure on Greece. It was always clear that Greece was the one to decide,” he said.
He further claimed that he had discussed the option “as a currency devaluation tool” with a former finance minister, who rejected it saying Greece would implement reforms. Note: Schaeuble proposed Grexit to finance minister Evangelos Venizelos
Schaeuble refers to August 2015. Unfortunately, the reality and KTG’s archives contradict Dr Schaeuble: Not only he did threaten with Grexit the Greek negotiations team already in March 2015, he handed out to his eurogroup colleagues the draft for a 5-year long Grexit already in beginning of July 2015, short after the Greek Referendum. He first proposed his total Grexit plan in summer 2011.
Everybody knows that Schaeuble submitted his first Grexit proposal in summer 2011, that is a year after Greece got its first bailout program, and stuck to his fixed idea until the beginning of 2017.
The former German finance minister said he warned Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras while the latter was still in opposition in 2014 that the Greek politician would not be able to meet his pre-election platform of zero austerity. Tsipras, Schaeuble said, told him he wanted to remain in the euro without any conditions.
“I responded that I wished, for his sake, that he didn’t win that election because he wouldn’t be able to keep his promises,” Schaeuble said stressing he was sorry that Greece tried to stay in the Eurozone for six months without reforms. He added that he respected the fact that Tsipras tried to keep his promises he had pre-election and when he recognized that he could not he succeeds in following the election. “I understood this much better than the others. Whatever he said, “I have to do the opposite of what I promised, I will make elections, I need a new mandate from the Greek voters”. This command has received it and now with all the difficulties – and that is not an easy one – the country is doing better, “he underlined.
On debt and blames and austerity
“When you ask others for loans, you cannot insult them for granting the loans. It doesn’t make sense. Greece’s problems are Greece’s problems.”
“I would not have wanted to be forced to impose such reforms in Germany, politically it is not at all easy.”
“That saddened me somewhat, because nobody ever wanted to harm Greece,” Schaeuble said adding that it was Greece that had decided to cut pensions instead of taxing wealthy ship-owners – contrary to what the leftist SYRIZA party promised before elections. “This wasn’t a German parliament decision, it was a Greek government decision.”
He reiterated that “lenders should not lower Greece’s fiscal targets or grant it further debt relief.”
Asked if the Greek case had become a personal issue for him, Schaeuble said: “Obviously in Greece I was a bogeyman, or at least for some media.”
He admitted he made some mistakes but refused to elaborate.
Had he elaborated, he would most likely say that it was his mistake to not insist on Grexit. And if he would be honest enough he would have also say that it was his mistake to accept the IMF in Greece bailout without teaching the Fund about the finesses of the Euro zone of which the IMF had no idea.
Some of Schaeuble’s statements make one wonder. Proceed with reforms while the horror negotiations in the first half of 2015 were underway and Schaeuble was pressing for Grexit? The ex German FinMin must have a very secret sense of humor, a humor only he can understand.
PS Wolfgang Schaeuble remains Greece-obsessed to the bone. He twists the truth how ever it fits him. A TV-duel between him and Varoufakis is a necessity. But the old chap would never accept such a challenge. One day he will leave this world and be still bitter that he was never understood and his efforts were never appreciated.