Finance minister: ‘Don’t ask us for more money’

Germany's finance minister said on Tuesday that in a "strong" Europe every country must do its "duty" and not ask its partners to stump up more money.

Finance minister: 'Don't ask us for more money'
Photo: DPA. Wolfgang Schäuble.

In a bid to defuse comments he made last week about Greece needing more help, Wolfgang Schäuble said in an interview with CNN International “that everybody has to do their duty and not to ask for more money (from the) others”.

“That’s the wrong way to get a strong Europe, that’s the wrong incentive,” he said during the interview, excerpts of which were released by the TV news channel on its website.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has moved to defuse a debate in recent days on aid for Greece, a month before general elections, amid dwindling taxpayer appetite to fund more European bailouts.

The issue flared up last week when Schäuble admitted during an election event that Greece would need another rescue from 2014, comments seen as marking a shift in Berlin’s position.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of Greece’s creditors, last month estimated Greece would need around €11 billion euros of help in 2014 and 2015.

Schäuble told newspaper the Rheinische Post on Tuesday that this figure seemed “not unrealistic”.

He told CNN that if Merkel won a third term in power after the September 22nd vote he was “confident that we will continue to work for a stronger Europe.”

“We don’t want a German Europe but we want a strong Europe. That means every member state, including Germany, has to increase its competitiveness.”

READ MORE: Why we must give Greece more help


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German war crime payments debated in Greece

Greece's parliament on Wednesday began a debate on a resolution to demand the payment of German war crime reparations, an issue long disputed by Berlin.

German war crime payments debated in Greece
Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras in Greece in January. Photo: DPA

“These demands are always active. They were never set aside by Greece,” parliament chairman Nikos Voutsis told reporters this week.

The chamber is expected to approve later Wednesday, with cross-party support, a resolution calling on the government of Premier Alexis Tsipras “to take all the necessary diplomatic and legal steps to claim and fully satisfy all the demands of the Greek state stemming from World War I and World War II”.

A parliamentary committee last year determined that Germany owes Greece at least €270 billion for World War I damages and looting, atrocities and a forced loan during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Reclaiming war reparations has been a campaign pledge by Tsipras since 2015. He faces multiple electoral challenges this year, with his party trailing in polls.

'Historical responsibility'

During a visit to Greece in January, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country “recognised its historical responsibility.”

SEE ALSO: Merkel says Germany recognizes responsibility for Nazi war crimes in Greece

“We recognize our historical responsibility. We know how much suffering we, as Germany in the time of Nazism, have brought to Greece,” she said.

In 2014, ex-president Joachim Gauck had also sought public forgiveness in the name of Germany from relatives of those murdered by the Nazis in the mountains of northern Greece.

But when it comes to actual payments, the German government has always insisted that the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.

Germany's government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Wednesday that “the reparation issue is judicially and politically settled”. 

He said Berlin is doing “everything it can so Greece and Germany maintain good relations as friends and partners”. 

During the Greek economic crisis, there was further tension in Athens over draconian EU austerity and bailout terms seen to be imposed by Berlin hardliners.

Relations have improved over the last three years after Tsipras' government endorsed conditions linked to satisfying its creditors.

Tsipras and Merkel also worked closely on finding common ground on migration and Balkans security.