German finance minister: Greece ‘needs austerity programs’
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said cash-strapped Greece needed to implement EU and IMF-imposed austerity measures as European solidarity was “not a one-way street.”
“To tell the Greeks that they need not apply austerity deals to which they have agreed is to lie to them,” Schaeuble told the weekly Bild am Sonntag.
“European solidarity is not a one-way street … And then structural reforms in Greece are necessary in any case, there’s no more ‘we’ll muddle through as usual’.”
Schaeuble said he would not interfere in the Greek campaign ahead of June 17 repeat elections. “But I can say that the direction we and Greece have chosen must be pursued and will be pursued” by the Greek people.
“Some people in Greece seem to believe that they can evade responsibility because ‘those in Brussels’ will not budge,” said Schaeuble, referring to the potentially high costs for EU taxpayers should Greece quit the eurozone and default on its debt.
The radical leftist Syriza party which stormed to second place on an anti-austerity ticket in Greece’s May 6 polls says the time is ripe to reject austerity policies that have plunged Greece into a deepening five-year recession.
To secure EU-IMF loans, Greece was recently forced to slash its minimum wage levels and amend labour laws to facilitate layoffs in a country already grappling with an unemployment rate of over 20 percent.
Syriza called such measures “barbaric” and said they must be overturned immediately.
A loose coalition of leftist groups led by 37-year-old engineer Alexis Tsipras, Syriza more than tripled its ratings in the last election — which produced no clear victor — and looks poised to further boost its strength in next month’s polls.