German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose country has put up the bulk of international loans to save Greece, said the lingering economic crisis is not Germany’s fault.
Greece has subsisted since 2010 on two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($216.18 billion) from creditors, but Germany insisted on, and got, harsh austerity measures in return to insure banks and investors would get paid first.
Greece’s coalition government, led by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has been locked in stalled talks with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) for months as the country goes broke.
Tsipras refuses to administer any more of the tough conditions that brought down two previous governments but Schaeuble said Greece has no choice but to do so.
Speaking to the German Die Zeit weekly, he said that, “In most of the other member states things are improving due to the low oil price and the weak euro. But not in Greece. The German government is not to blame for everything.”
Asked whether Greece should institute capital controls, as was done on similarly bailed-out Cyprus, he said, “The decision about capital controls rests with member states alone.”
He defended the decision of Greece’s partners to disburse further aid only in return for economic reforms.
“That is the philosophy of the rescue program. The new government is saying: we want to keep the euro but we don’t want the program any more. That doesn’t fit together,” he said.