ATHENS – Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is putting up the bulk of Greek bailouts, to visit and give a “Speech of Hope” to people buried under austerity she demanded.
Writing in his blog, Varoufakis said Greece is in the same state as was Germany after World War II, noting that then U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes travelled to Stuttgart to deliver an historic speech freeing the Germans of punitive measures, leading the country to growth and prosperity, now Europe’s biggest revenue engine.
“Seven decades later, it is my country, Greece, that needs such a chance,” said Varoufakis, who had been the point man in failed negotiations with international lenders.
Greece is going broke and faces a default on its loans and exit from the Eurozone unless a deal is reached with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB,) but Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is refusing to administer more austerity as a condition of getting a 7.2-billion euro installment.
“Greater austerity is being demanded from an economy that is on its knees, owing to the heftiest dose of austerity any country has ever had to endure in peacetime,” said Varoufakis.
“No offer of debt relief. No plan for boosting investment. And certainly, as of yet, no ‘Speech of Hope’ for this fallen people,” he added.
Varoufakis will be in Berlin this week to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has been the hardest taskmaster in insisting on more austerity for Greece, as has Merkel, despised by many Greeks for doing so.
In previous visits, she was kept far from protesters who were banned from coming anywhere near her. Varoufakis didn’t say if she accepted his invitation whether the people she would be addressing would continue to be barred from seeing her.
Varoufakis said in his blog that Greece was committed to making its stricken economy competitive again, but a “Speech of Hope” would make the difference by restoring morale to its citizens.
Merkel should deliver the speech in Athens or Thessaloniki “or any other Greek city of her choice,” he said. It should “mark a sea change, a break with the past five years of adding new loans on top of already unsustainable debt, conditional on further doses of punitive austerity,” he said, asking her to reverse her long-held positions.