When times are very tough “then you look for someone to project your anger onto,” he told local radio broadcaster SWR2, when asked about public ire in Cyprus against Germany, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
“That will pass. It is of course completely unfounded,” he added.
He described as fair the terms of the rescue, which will see depositors with more than €100,000 ($128,000) in the island’s top two banks face losing a large chunk of their money.
He also came to the defence of the head of eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, for his handling of the Cyprus bailout and his suggestion it might serve as a model for other stricken states.
“Cyprus was a special case, everybody knew that,” Schäuble stressed.
“I think Dijsselbloem was misunderstood,” he said, adding that the Dutchman had only repeated a mantra intoned since the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
“If you have a debtor who at the end of the day can’t pay and you have outstanding claims then you can also lose money.”
Dijsselbloem had suggested that the Cyprus approach, with its provision for major depositors to take losses, could be used again to avoid having taxpayers carry the burden, as they have done up to now in the crisis.
Rising anger against Germany as the paymaster for eurozone bailout packages and its most influential member state has rattled officials in Berlin.
Demonstrators on the streets of Nicosia brandishing posters depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as an Adolf Hitler figure bent on European domination have received wide media coverage.
German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was quoted Wednesday as saying that European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy ought to help rein in anti-German sentiment.
“Germany is showing solidarity so that in the end the crisis countries have a future,” she told Munich’s daily Merkur.
“So I would indeed ask that the people at the top – the Commission president and the Council president – demonstrate solidarity with us and defend the Germans against unjustified accusations,” she concluded.