Schäuble admits he would've dreaded imposing Greek austerity on Germany

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Schäuble admits he would've dreaded imposing Greek austerity on Germany
Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA

Germany's hardline former finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Wednesday said he would have found it far from easy to impose on his country austerity measures like the ones he helped design for Greece.


"I would not have wanted to be forced to impose such reforms in Germany, politically it is not at all easy," Schäuble, who was Germany's feared paymaster from 2009 and one of the architects of the Greek bailouts, told Greece's Skai TV.

With the worst of Greece's eight-year economic crisis now over, Schäuble said that seeing the southern European nation shrug off bailout crutches would be his "happiest moment".

"I believe (the nightmare) is over, the data shows things are recovering," he said.

"According to the latest (information), it is thought that Greece will manage without new measures, and that it will regain access to the markets."

Following three successive bailouts since 2010 which Germany played a key role in crafting, Greece's gross national output fell by a quarter owing to broad pay cuts and tax hikes imposed to rein in runaway state spending.

Schäuble insists that the painful mix, which also saw pensions slashed, was always Greece's choice to make.

"None of us ever wanted to harm Greece. We always fought to find the course Greece could follow towards improvement," he said.

"It was always clear that nobody could pressure Greece. It was always clear that Greece was the one who decided," he said.

Schäuble also denied trying to push Athens out of the eurozone in 2015.

"Essentially all (European finance ministers) were of the view that the best thing for Greece would be to take time out (from the euro) with European backing," he said.

Schäuble also took a swipe at flamboyant former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has written a book about Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' failed attempt to revamp the bailout after coming to power in 2015.

"To be honest, what Varoufakis says is so far removed from reality that I cannot really deal with it," Schäuble said.

The 75-year-old minister known for his caustic wit was nominated parliament speaker on Tuesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly asked Schäuble to take the post to rein in the far-right AfD in parliament.


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