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Greek president attacks Schäuble for 'taunts'

The Local · 16 Feb 2012, 10:22

Published: 16 Feb 2012 10:22 GMT+01:00

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"I do not accept having my country taunted by Mr Schäuble, as a Greek I do not accept it," President Carolos Papoulias said late on Wednesday in Athens.

"Who is Mr Schäuble to taunt Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns?" the 82-year-old head of state said.

"We always had the pride to defend not only our freedom, but also that of Europe," said Papoulias, a former youth resistance fighter during Greece's wartime occupation by Nazi Germany who later studied law in Munich and Cologne and speaks German.

Schäuble had earlier in the day mooted the possibility of Greece becoming a "bottomless pit" ahead of a conference call by eurozone finance ministers on a new bailout for Athens.

"We can help but we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit," he told SWR radio.

The Netherlands and Finland have also led calls in the eurozone for a tough line to force recession-hit Athens to honour its reform pledges and fulfil fiscal criteria set under a previous loan rescue in 2010.

Story continues below…

The new bailout, pending since October, totals €130 billion ($173 billion) and is tied to a €100-billion debt write-off by private banks. Greece needs money to repay a €14.4-billion bond issue that matures on March 20.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:21 February 16, 2012 by pepsionice
Perhaps the Greeks should spend more time defending their economy and the future of all young Greeks. The government literally promised just about everything you can imagine.....to every single Greek....and the bill has come due now. The economy is dead for probably the next ten years. If I were a 21-year old Greek....I'd be contacting relatives in Europe and the US.....looking for an exit for Greece and leaving the country for the next twenty years. All of the political parties are guilty of causing this mess.
11:50 February 16, 2012 by BAYVARMAN
The Best Answer is to get out of the Euro and the the EU ,you would be better off and in charge of your own destiny .Look at Norway ,all the polictions said how Norway would suffer outside the EU .
12:59 February 16, 2012 by lodermulch
"Taunts" ?

Well, if Schäuble's intention would have been to taunt, he would have had the opportunity of the millenium -->

"Our Money, Greeks? Molon Labe!"

13:16 February 16, 2012 by raghav.s
"Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns?" -- well, they are the ones who will decide on giving you the money ;)

On the otherhand, deeper spending cuts and tough austerity measures will be like rubbing salt on the common people's wounds and it is not going to help Greece to comeout of recession.
13:21 February 16, 2012 by ChrisRea
Truth hurts Mr. Papoulias, doesn't it? Otherwise you would not have such a violent outburst.
14:55 February 16, 2012 by Michel_Berlin
You don't get pride with birth, you have to earn your respect. What for should the Greeks be respected? For a failed, rotten third world country?

For begging with the tin pot in one hand but blaming and excusing and finger pointing with the other?

There is one way for Greece to get back some respect and show some pride...give all the money back you got from Germany and the EU and demand no more. If your pride is bigger than your greed you would proudly rather eat dirt than to take money from the hated Germans!

I would respect you for that!
17:06 February 16, 2012 by finanzdoktor
I am wondering if they meant "taint" v. "taunt?" Who are the Germans, the Dutch, and the Finns? The economies who made the tough decisions necessary, to lead to more robust and competitive economies, and who you are now turning to for bailout funds (in otherwords, you would be creditors).
17:56 February 16, 2012 by smart2012
it is funny to see people blaming at others, just looking at their own interest, and ruining Europe. Why German government did continue to support German companies in selling weapons/tanks/submarines to Greece (did not they know about Greece financial situations) or did support German banks in buying in Greece? Do u guys believe that Germans are betther than Greek? Or English better than France? or so on...? Let's fpcus on solving the issue here (in the last weeks Siemens announced 3K people cut in Germany, Thiessenkrup is closing a plant in Germnay, IBM is cutting 8K people in Germany)..... Guys, f u continue like that, the situation willl get worse and we will be ready for a WW3....
20:15 February 16, 2012 by storymann
Greece may be a bottomless pit , but they were accepted and are part of the EU.

This UNION, means very little when one of its problem children are tossed out and ridiculed by the stronger members.

The EU is basically a failed venture. Nationalism rules and nothing other that a common currency is the glue that binds this weak association together.I doubt Greece is the only and final problem. The EU as it exists today has very little chance of coming out of this contagious problem.

What will happe in the future is anybody's guess, but for certain there will be major changes taking place down the long road to recovery.
20:21 February 16, 2012 by matchstickmann
@storymann #9

Germany was forced to accept Euro, a price for reunification. But still it has been the most sincere country working behind the scenes for the success of Euro and the EU. Yes, problem child cannot be ridiculed by stronger members and at the same time the problem child should not point fingers at helping hands.

Beggers cannot be choosers!
22:54 February 16, 2012 by smart2012
…and I forgot, 18% of people in Germany do not reach the minimum salary to live (2011 latest statistic).. If this is a great system and we can focus on talking about Greece for the rest of the year (we have already spent 6 months talking about a country which represents 2% of total EU), then guys continue to do it... but do not complain if Chinese/Russian/Americans/Brazilians/Indians will buy all of us... PS: do not recommend your kids to study Engineer, and if u do so tell them to learn mandarin
02:29 February 17, 2012 by Northshore
"No one says how the British shared what little they had for three years, food and coal, with destitute and starving Germans after 1947. " Because it's a LIE

If the Germans really WERE so punitive, they could cart off all the autos and trains and toilets like the Allies did to Germany in '45. The Aussies got all the air-conditioned trains.. though they STILL don't have type of tracks needed to run them on- And did I miss where the Wehrmacht came too close to Sydney
03:41 February 17, 2012 by DOZ
If Germany wants to taunt a country, then let them taunt the USA, which is the Country responsible for the whole mess in the 1st place.

Good luck to the Proud Greeks who still have family and human values. Maybe Germans should put Family and Human Values ahead of their vision of controlling Europe again. Klik Klik.
06:04 February 17, 2012 by Doggy
Come on, its just bunch of the emotions. Germany has a right to demand, and to make some stronger comments, as far as I had learned, the average salary in Germany is relatively all right, however, one must deduct the high taxes of about 45% or so. So, why would every German be responsible for the happenings in the Greece? Any kind of help also consists of some laws as well.
08:53 February 17, 2012 by Daktari
I don't think that Germany, and for that matter, the rest of the EU minds helping the smaller members when they are "down".

The problem is that those lending the money expect changes to be made inside of Greece to prevent the future need for more bail outs.

Greece is saying, "yes, yes, we will make the changes", but not entirely following through on it.

The rich people in Greece are not going to starve, but the lower and lower middle folks are going to get hit pretty hard.

But the problem is not with the Germans, its with the Greek leadership for the last 20 years. Its easier to say, "Its the Germans fault" than it is to say, "We have failed you".

And of course, there are those folks who want to blame the US for everything... sigh....
21:16 February 17, 2012 by Russel
Greece entered into the European Monetary system under pressure by Germany,so as to enhance the Euro expansion.German politicians and diplomats,knew all too well,that Greece,as well as other Europeans countries did not meet the stric tcriteria.They turned a blind eye to it.Now,the economic woes of the whole European system is being saddled on Greece.The whole European mechanism as initiated and controlled by Germany is flawed.No point in finger pointing to Greece or Italy or Portugal who have tried to survive under a monetary mechanism which saps their growth.The irony is,that Greece,has demanded in private discussions to leave the Euro,and objections have once again come from Germany.Schauble has been told,that this is a mechansim Greece will accept,as it already has been told by Premier Wen Jia Bao of China and others that it is ready to accept Greece's debt and assist.Germany has rejected this proposal.Basically,German politicians are either idiots or hypocrites or both.Either they want to be controlling Europe,then they need to pay up with the money involved to maintain unity and stop arguing and whinging about it,or if they do not want to control Europe,let other member states such as Greece,and Italy,go their separate ways and seek financing elsewhere.It is simple and easy,but German hypocricy seems to have no ends...
01:12 February 18, 2012 by Michel_Berlin

Yeah...they even forced the Greeks to fake their books to gain entry! ;)
16:44 February 18, 2012 by luckylongshot
Talk about the blind leading the blind. Neither of these guys understand that lack of austerity was not the main cause of the Greek situation. It was largely caused by the privately owned fractional reserve banking system. Greedy bankers and naive greeks resulted in huge loans being made that the Greek Government should have stopped. Now the interest on these loans is destroying the economy and the German finance minister is calling for austerity when it is way too late to do this. The private banks that countrol the issuing of money meanwhile are reaping in around half of all the income on the planet as interest on all the debt ´they have created (out of thin air!).

Maintaining this system now will over time see all of the assets in the western world transferred into the hands of these bankers as the only way to pay the interest bill is to borrow more from these guys (who invent money out of thin air and then charge the public interest on the money they have invented.

The only way out of this mess is to let the system fail, annul all debt and then ideally return to a money system based on assets where there is no interest and the right to issue money rests with the public through their governments.
17:37 February 18, 2012 by Russel

Before you blame the Greeks for cooking the books,cast your mind back to how the process occurred.It was a 3 year period of European and Greek exchange of information and fact finding European Committees and recommendations.Let us also not forget the investment banks which were involved in making the presentation to the European Commission regarding Greece's position.

The Greeks did not even make the presentation themselves,the investment banks did.One in particular wasthe main architect of it all,but to not get into any trouble here,we wont name names...but you can find out with a '' google search'',assuming you actually want to know the truth,and not just parrot simplistic phrases that some simpleton politician has taught you.

Everybody gave the all clear.

If everybody had done their job properly,no amount of Greek rorts would have succeeded in passing the scrutiny.

The fact is,everybody at the time,particularly Germany,wanted the Euro to expand at any cost.

Now,everybody puts their hands up and cries..''we didnt know''.

Well it is all so hypocritical and a complete sham.

Trying to find a scapegoat now,such as the Greeks,and of course after the Greeks come the Italians,is complete nonsense.

Germany screwed up,and in the end this will lead to the disintegration of Europe as it was set up..

The irony is,as i stated earlier,if the Germans kick out Greece and later Italy out of the Euro,the Chinese and the Russians will bank roll their debt,giving them economic and political entry into Europe both for their financial services and their products.

Does this matter?

Well,considering Germany now runs Europe,and soon will find itself as an outsider,one could argue that yes it does matter...but i guess for a few votes,idiots like Schauble can now get away with this crap.
06:29 February 19, 2012 by Big L
I am not from Europe and maybe I just do not understand the politics there, but given the Greek attitude, can someone explain to me in simple terms why the Germans still give money to Greece?
13:20 February 19, 2012 by Doggy
Just follow Daktari he is right in a statement ;

"But the problem is not with the Germans, its with the Greek leadership for the last 20 years. Its easier to say, "Its the Germans fault" than it is to say, "We have failed you".

And of course, there are those folks who want to blame the US for everything... sigh.... "

As far as I understood, Greece is trying to keep the attention away from their problems by directly blaming the Germans as it¦#39;s easier. Then the riots occurring in Greece will turn against Germany as a new ¦quot; demanding financial enemy¦quot;. I am not sure why the Germans are still giving the money to Greece, but I suspect that in the nearest future they will have to give the money to Italy as well, as next waiting in a line probably.
18:51 February 19, 2012 by Russel
@Big L.the problem here,is Germany has refused to allow Greece to withdraw from the European Monetary system,and has undertaken to provide loans,not money given for free,but loans under specific conditions.

Greece,has on a number of times,requested to withdraw from the Eruo and be allowed to bankrupt itself and seek alternative lenders.

Germany has refused.

Greece has asked to be given special consideration to sell it's ports and it's railways to the Chinese who have shown interest,and again,the Europeans have refused.

So,it isn;t as simplistic as people think.

If Greece,withdrew today,the banks would fail completely.Meaning,German and French banks which have investment exposure to the bonds,would actually close,similar to bank failures in Iceland,and England recently during the 2008 mess.

Scauble,who must go down in history as the biggest fool Germany has had,is working on a plan,to try to ''protect'' German banks from a Greek bankruptcy,and then throw Greece out from the Euro.It is considered this plan will be operational by July.

The problem is,like the flu,or like a contagious virus,noone can predict the impact and loss of confidence in Europe,if Greece is kicked out.

The markets will not believe in Schauble's plan,and the crisis will move away from Greece,to the heart of Europe,and the heart of the Euro.It is at this time,that Germany will then feel the impact of al this.

Since the Germans,let Greece into the Euro,and the Italians as well,then,they should simply write out the debt completely,and accept the loss.

The current strategy is heading for European Armageddon.

Trust me on this.
10:55 February 20, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Russel

When do you say that Greece demanded to withdraw from the Eurozone and Germany refused? I never heard of such thing. The last time an official position was expressed was in November 2011 when the prime minister Papandreou said that Greece's membership in eurozone is not in question.
15:08 February 20, 2012 by Russel

Chris,maybe you haven't been listening,or hearing from all the sources.

Maybe not all of the German press is delivering all the information...

When the crisis blew up,the Greek Caucus,immediately took a position where the Deputy and Finance ministers,were in favor of specific withdrawl from the European Union monetary system to avoid paying back any loans at all.It was an attractive position.

Angela Merkel,heard all this,and immediately gave an impassioned speech over the need for Greece to remain in the Union.

As you said,quite rightly 2 days later,Papandreou gave the same answer.

During those 2 days though,Greece,was divided on the issue of withdrawl.

German intervention,and even the calling up and intervention of a former pro German PM,Mr Simitis,tipped the result towards support for Europe on the Greek side...but,it was never an assumed result.

During that time,Turkish PM Mr Erdogan,called and suggested the IMF be withdrawn,and that Greece withdraw from the Euro which has been the source of Greece's problem.,and proposed a Balkan Free Trade Deal,comprising of Turkey,Greece and other regional states joining together in a Union,specifically rejecting the E.U.He later followed up with private talks,including a visit with Turkish and non Turkish business people,who promised investment into Greece,as well as Arab money used to help pay off the debt.

I presume the German press has not reported any of this..?

Have you seen the demonstrations on Athens?

Seen their placards?

Some are in English..they say,''out of Europe''.

44,politicians recently voted in ffavor of Greece withdrawing from Europe and the Euro monetary system.

I noticed in the English and German press,the anti European position was intepreted merely as a ''NO'' to the E.U package,but noone reported on what these polticians were saying as the basis for their decision,which was for a withdrawl from the Euor and Europe completely.

I ask you Chris.

If you had a choice,to go bankrupt,and pay nothing back,and save the country a complete social dislocation..or to have 10 years of recession and paying back foreign debts,which one would you pick?

I work to have answers for outcomes of such scenarios as these.

We get our news from German,English,American agencies,but we also intepret Greek,Italian,Turkish,Iranian,Arab sources as well.We want to hear everything.

Unfortunately,the German press,and the german political spin doctorstrying to save Merkel's ass, simplify matters,to avoid the poltical consequences if all sides were heard.

And the worst,incompetent,trying to find easy scapegoats to avoid his own failures from being exposed,is this guy Schauble,who must be the first to answer to the German people for when the whole place comes tumbling down.When people in Germany eventually have their banks failing,and they lose deposits,i hope they go knocking on Mr Schauble's door..lets see if he opens and answers then..?
08:01 February 21, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Russel

Thanks for the long answer. I see you agree with me that, even if there are some voices demanding that Greece gives up Euro/EU membership, there was never a clear majority or an official position supporting this idea.

You are asking me to choose between bankruptcy and austerity measures? Given the recent case of Romania, I would say austerity measures are the way to go, even if it makes life difficult in the beginning. Romanians are proud people, so I would not expect them to even consider bankruptcy. They are also stoics, so they committed to ever harsher measures than those imposed to Greece. Of course the price was high (including a political one), but the results are already showing after only a couple of years. So my personal choice is the Romanian solution, but I do not expect all Greeks to agree with me.
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