NEWS

Dijsselbloem comes under southern fire for comments on women, drink

TAGS: Diplomacy, Politics, Economy

With the backlash over the derogatory remarks about crisis-stricken Southern European made by Jeroen Dijsselbloem – the chief of the eurozone’s finance ministers – in full swing on Wednesday, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the Dutch official was divisive and “completely misguided.”

“[The comment] adopts stereotypes that widen the chasm between north and south,” he said, adding that it paves the way for “extremist views, not to mention sexist overtones.”

Dijsselbloem, who has refused to apologize, had whipped up a storm of indignation this week after saying that Southern European countries had squandered their money “on liquor and women,” but a spokesman for the Eurogroup chief insisted yesterday that “his message is meant for all eurozone countries: Solidarity comes with obligations.”

But leaders of Southern European countries were not buying it, with Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa calling on him to step down as, he said, Europe would lose credibility if such a prominent figure engaged in “racist, xenophobic and sexist” remarks.\

“Europe will only be credible as a common project on the day when Mr Dijsselbloem stops being head of the Eurogroup and apologizes clearly to all the countries and peoples that were profoundly offended by his remarks,” he said.

Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi also vented his anger in a Facebook post, writing that if Dijsselbloem “wants to offend Italy he should do it at the sports bar under his house, not in his institutional role.”

However, Dijsselbloem still enjoys the backing of the Dutch government, according to an official who said that Prime Minister Mark Rutte is “very supportive of his role at the Eurogroup.”

Online