Germany’s Schaeuble says Greece could be model for Ukraine aid

By Rainer Buergin & Patrick Donahue

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that European nations looking to throw Ukraine a financial lifeline could use Greece’s bailout as a blueprint.

“If ever we were to reach a situation in which we had to stabilize Ukraine, we would have many experiences from Greece” to draw on, Schaeuble told an audience at the NRW School of Governance in the western German city of Duisburg.

Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund neared the end of bailout talks today, more than a month after the government’s Moscow-backed leader was ousted and regional tension culminated in Russia’s seizure of Crimea. Struggling with dwindling reserves and a looming third recession since 2008, Ukraine will need lending of as much as $20 billion, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said yesterday.

IMF conditions involving austerity measures spurred unrest and economic hardship in Greece and other countries that received financial rescues during the European debt crisis. Germany led the campaign for fiscal belt-tightening as the preferred approach for overcoming the crisis, which originated in Greece in late 2009.

Noting that Greece is “very, very specific,” Schaeuble lauded efforts undertaken by the government in Athens and cited the country’s recovery from recession. Euro-area authorities have approved two aid programs for Greece totaling 240 billion euros ($331 billion).

“Greece is on a better path than those who are officially concerned with Greece have thought possible,” Schaeuble said in response to questions at today’s event.