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Greek president attacks Schäuble for 'taunts'

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Greek president attacks Schäuble for 'taunts'
Photo: DPA
10:22 CET+01:00
Greece's president has attacked German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble for supposedly "taunting" the country's troubled reform efforts as Athens fights to stay in the eurozone and avert default.

"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.

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.

AFP/mry

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