Germany warns vows by Greece no longer suffice
BERLIN / ATHENS
Greek communist party members wave party’s flags after hanging banners in Greek and English denouncing European Union policies under the temple of Parthenon at the Athen’s Acropolis hill on Feb. 11. The IMF and EU forces Greece to taste a bitter pill to avoid bankruptcy but the EU-backed austerity measures are triggering a big public anger. AP photoGreek promises on austerity measures are no longer good enough because so many vows have been broken and the country that has been a “bottomless pit” has to dramatically change its ways, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.
In a hard-hitting interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Schaeuble also said it is up to Greece whether the country can stay in the euro zone as part of its efforts to restore its competitiveness.
“The promises from Greece aren’t enough for us anymore,” Schaeuble said. “With a new austerity programme they are going to first have to implement parts of the old program and ave.” he said.
Schaeuble pointed out that German opinion polls show a majority of Germans are willing to help Greece.
“But it’s important to say that it cannot be a bottomless pit. That’s why the Greeks have to finally close that pit. And then we can put something in there. At least people are now starting to realise it won’t work with a bottomless pit,” Reuters interpreted him as saying.
Schaeuble said Greece needed to do its homework on improving its competitiveness and hinted it might have to leave the eurozone to do that. “Greece needs to do its own homework to become competitive - whether that happens in conjunction with a new rescue program or by another route that we actually don’t want to take...”
When asked if that meant Greece would leave the eurozone for that, Schaeuble said, “That is all in the hands of the Greeks themselves.”
Schaeuble’s statements came on a crucial voting day at the Greek parliament. The parliament opened debate on new austerity measures yesterday to avoid default after Prime Minister Lucas Papademos warned the nation was approaching “Ground Zero,” Agence France-Press reported.
Parliament president opened the session during which lawmakers would decide whether to back a government-approved plan that is needed to unlock a 130-billion-euro rescue fund from the EU and the IMF.
The session was continuing when the Daily News went to print yesterday evening.