Athens.- Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says the reforms forced on his country by creditors are “going to fail.”
“This program is going to fail whoever undertakes its implementation,” the state-run BBC quoted Varoufakis as saying on Saturday.
The former finance minister was referring to a bailout program proposed by the EU for an amount that may reach $93 billion with a precondition on austerity measures, which Varoufakis says will “go down in history as the greatest disaster of macroeconomic management ever.”
On Wednesday, the Greek Parliament is set to vote on further measures, which Varoufakis said have “failed already.”
He also claimed that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had no option but to accept the bailout.
“We were given a choice between being executed and capitulating. And he decided that capitulation was the optimal strategy,” said Varoufakis.
The former minister resigned earlier this month over being told that he was considered unwelcome by some members of the eurozone at meetings of finance ministers.
DEBATE IN GERMANY
The Bundestag will have to vote again on any agreement between Greece and its creditors for a third bailout.
In an advance copy of an interview to be published in newspaper Tagessspiegel on Sunday, Peter Tauber said the suffering of the Greek people “doesn’t leave any of us cold” but the examples of Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Ireland showed it was possible to successfully overcome the debt crisis.
“So, after successful negotiations with Greece, there can be reasons for a ‘yes’, even for those who have said ‘no’ up until now,” Tauber said.
He said a Greek exit from the euro zone was off the cards at the moment, but warned: “Europe has not given Greece a blank cheque, there are very clear expectations and if Greece doesn’t fulfil them, then we’ll sit back down at the table very quickly.”
In a German radio interview Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservatives, rejected criticism of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s suggestion that Greece might be better off taking a time-out from the euro zone.
Schaeuble made clear that such an option would only have been possible if Greece gave it the green light but Athens would never do that, Kauder said in an interview due to be broadcast on Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.
Kauder said people should therefore now concentrate on the negotiations with Greece instead as these were “hard enough”
Now that initial decisions have been taken in Greece, the question is whether Athens will actually carry out the reforms required for a bailout, Kauder said.
“They need to be done now. It really is the eleventh hour for Greece in terms of actually implementing these reforms,” he said, naming the big public sector, lack of foundation for economic development and lack of tax administration as examples.
Kauder said all countries in Europe needed to become competitive and Greece must make a contribution to this, adding that even under previous governments Athens had not been willing to make the country as competitive as was necessary in Europe.
He rejected calls for a debt “haircut” for Greece, saying Germany’s conservative bloc shared Schaeuble’s view that such demands had to be rejected. (Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by David Holmes and Digby Lidstone)
Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, who has come under criticism for his handling of the Greek debt crisis, indicated in an interview published on Saturday that he was prepared to resign rather than go against his convictions.
Asked by the weekly Der Spiegel about differences between his tough stance with Greece and the greater flexibility shown by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schauble admitted that “one sometimes has different opinions.”
“And then one tries together to find solutions. In that process each has their role,” he said. “Angela Merkel is the chancellor; I am the finance minister. Politicians derive their responsibility from their offices. Nobody can force them. If somebody would try that, I could go to the president and request my dismissal.”
It was the first time that Schauble had mentioned resignation in the months of debate over Greece’s debt, during which he expressed a much harder line toward Greece than Merkel, whose agenda included not only Germany’s needs but also the health of the European Union.
Asked if he was thinking about resigning, Schauble told Der Spiegel: “No, how do you come to that?”
“Mrs. Merkel and I have one constant: We know that we can rely on one another,” he said.
Asked for comment, Schauble’s spokesman, Martin Jager, said only that the interview spoke for itself.
It appeared a day after German lawmakers voted to open negotiations on a third bailout for Greece. Although Merkel had a comfortable majority, she faced the biggest revolt to date among her conservative deputies: 439 lawmakers voted in favor of moving ahead with the bailout deal that European leaders negotiated last weekend in Brussels. There were 119 votes against, and 40 legislators abstained.
Merkel and Schauble had urged parliament to back the bailout, which both called “a last attempt” to order Greece’s finances and build a functioning state. It would be Greece’s third bailout in five years, and it was negotiated with the goal of keeping the country in the eurozone.
But a breakdown of the vote showed that among the 119 votes against starting talks on a new package, 60 were from members of Merkel’s conservative bloc; another five abstained and four did not vote. That opposition was double the number in February, when parliament last voted on Greek debt relief.
Schauble’s support for the bailout is considered crucial to retaining conservative backing in the next key parliamentary vote which would be to approve or reject whatever package is negotiated in coming weeks. In that sense, his public dalliance with resignation seemed intended to underscore for the chancellor how much she needed his support, also in what could become fiercer quarrels with the Social Democrats, the center-left party that is Merkel’s partner in her grand coalition government.
Although the Social Democrats overwhelmingly backed Friday’s proposal, they warned Schauble against repeating his admonitions that Greece would be better off exiting the eurozone. He dropped the stance in time for Friday’s vote.