20 February 2015

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has already made clear that his patience with Greece is running out – and the rest of Germany pretty much agrees with him.

In three short sentences, the German Finance Ministry yesterday poured cold water on Athen’s plea  to extend its loans by another six months.

The letter from Athens is not a substantial proposal for a solution. Realistically, it aims at bridge programme, without fulfilling the conditions of the programme. The letter does not fulfill the criterion agreed in the Eurogroup on Monday.

Martin Jäger, Spokesperson, German Federal Ministry of Finance, 19 February 2015

Germans think Greek demands are “outrageous”

A new Emnid poll for N24 finds that 52% of Germans think that the demands made by Greek  Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis are “outrageous,”41% say they are “naive,” 25% say they are “strategically skillful,” while 13% said they “secretly admire” Tsipras and Varoufakis

Bild: Gemany says: Thank you Wolfgang Schäuble!

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German tabloid Bild leads with the headline, “Finally someone says ‘no’ to the bankrupt Greeks. Germany says: Thank you Wolfgang Schäuble!”

Billions in gifts to the Greek people – and we should pay for it! Schäuble is not doing this any longer!

Bild, 20 February 2015

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Athens request full of “interpretation traps”

Stefan Kornelius, Foreign Editor of the left-leaning Süddeutsche Zeitung, writes that Schäuble’s objection is wise, as Athens negotiating manner doesn’t leave much room for trust. He adds, “It is now pointless to argue about whether the letter from Athens contains the necessary commitments or not.  The simple observation that it leaves too much room for interpretation suffices. One can interpret good will in the letter – but also a lot of backstabbing. In the the end, the credibility of the player will decides. And as long as  the credibility is not there, a responsible finance minister cannot sign up to further assistance.”

[Athen’s request is] full of interpretation traps that would keep any legal expert awake at night.

Stefan Kornelius, Foreign Editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: European citizens are sick of the “Greece” issue

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, Foreign Policy Editor for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writes, “It is time that the Tsipras government grasps reality, and recognizes who is the creditor and who is the debtor – it must understand how great the resentment is in many European countries over the “Greece” issue. Many citizens are sick of it; this is also nourishing annoyance at Europe. ”

Apparently the Greek government thinks that it could hold its partners for fools. At times, it has abused the Brussels  stage for theatrical performances, sometimes there are signs of programme change, and then it starts all over again. This is not serious.

Klaus-Deiter Frankberger, Foreign Policy Editor, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20 February 2015

Die Welt: Wake up call for Greece

In a leader for the centre-right daily Die Welt, Deputy Editor in Chief, Andrea Seibel writes, “We see the statement of [Schäuble] as a wake-up call. None of his colleagues would have dared anything of the kind. It is exactly the language understood by Athens.”

And Seibel doesn’t make much of the Greek charm offensive in Europe either:

For weeks, it has been a pleasure for the representatives of the Greek coalition government, to bring the Brussels consensus machine close to overheating.  Every appearance of the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister is presented like a piece of entertainment on the news. The cool and alert Greek boys across from the Brussels suits and other boring types.

Andrea Seibel, Deputy Editor in Chief, Die Welt,  February 2015

Oettinger: “Elephants in a china shop”

Speaking to Deutschlandfund radio this morning, European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger (pf Angela Merkel’s CDU party), said that the Greeks have “behaved like elephants in a China shop,” saying the letter from Athens was by “no means sufficient” and urging Varoufakis to take “authentic responsibility” at today’s Eurogroup meeting.

He added,

The Minister from Athens [Varoufakis] may simply be posturing. He could take authentic responsibility. Then there will be movement. Otherwise, the letter would have been more of a red herring.

Günther Oettinger, European Energy Commissioner,  20 February 2015

Merkel: Not enough substance – but scope for talks

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also weighed in this morning, choosing her words a little more carefully: while she also sees the letter to be “inadequate,” she added that there is still scope for further talks.

A more conciliatory tone was also struck by German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD, who yesterday said, “We should use this new attitude by the Greek government as a starting point for negotiations, and not publicly reject them beforehand.”