Athens, December 9, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
Hard feelings between Athens and the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble appeared to intensify on Tuesday following statements by Greek premier Alexis Tsipras on Monday about the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) involvement in the country’s bailout program.
The Greek PM told state broadcaster ERT in an interview that the IMF doesn’t necessarily need to be involved in providing bailout loans to Greece under its third adjustment program since the successful recapitalization of the banking system meant the country will need less funding.
“The Fund must decide if it wants a compromise, if it will remain a part of the program,” said Tsipras. “If it does not want to, it should come out publicly and say so.”
German Finance Minister W. Schaeuble was highly critical of the Tsipras’s view. “It is not in Greece’s interests for it to question the IMF’s involvement in the bailout program,” he said.
“I believe we negotiated at length with Mr Tsipras in July and August,” added Schaeuble. “I also believe that he signed the agreement and then held elections to get a mandate from the Greek people so he could implement what he signed.”
Schaeuble also questioned the Tsipras administration’s ownership and commitement to the bailout reforms agreed in August.
“They should focus their attention on doing what they have to do,” he said. “As always, they are behind schedule. Maybe questioning the agreement is necessary for domestic reasons; he has a slim majority I have noticed. This may be the easy route but it is not in Greece’s interests.”
Earlier, German newspaper Die Welt had published an article referring to the negotiations between Greece and its creditors which lasted months and characterized the result as catastrophic. As the article states, “according to a three-page report by Germany Embassy in Athens dated December 1, Greece is practically ungoverned”.
Athens reacted angrily to the latest criticism from Berlin.
“We would like to point out that the Greek government is responsible for deciding what is in the country’s interests,” said government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili.
“We expect the German Finance Ministry to separate its stance from the unacceptably tough stance of the IMF,” she added. “Europe should and is able to solve its problems on its own […] Thankfully the European people realize which views each side serves”.