Two weeks before a critical Eurogroup summit, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble launched a broadside at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, claiming that the leftist premier has not shifted the burden of austerity away from poorer Greeks as he had pledged.
In his comments, Schaeuble also maintained that party influence on the Greek public administration has increased rather than decreased during Tsipras’s time in power, noting that ruling party officials have been appointed to the country’s privatization fund.
Greek government sources responded tersely to Schaeuble’s criticism. “The responsibility of Schaeuble in managing the Greek crisis has been recorded historically,” one source said. “There is no point in his ascribing it to others.”
Meanwhike Germany’s Die Welt reported that the European Central Bank had similar views on the need for Greek debt relief to the International Monetary Fund, and indicated that Schaeuble might be facing pressure to make unpopular decisions ahead of elections scheduled to take place in Germany in September.
Tsipras, for his part, apparently sought to lower expectations in comments on Thursday. During a visit to the Interior Ministry, he said the government’s goal was “fulfilling the country’s commitments” linked to Greece’s third international bailout.
He dodged reporters’ questions about whether he expected to leave a European Union leaders’ summit on June 22 wearing a tie – something he has pledged to do only when Greece secures debt relief. “The important thing is that I don’t leave with further burdens,” Tsipras said.
Aides close to Tsipras will be closely following a Euro Working Group meeting scheduled for June 8 for indications about what kind of deal creditors are likely to put on the table at the Eurogroup summit planned for June 15.
If the solution that is in the works is deemed to be too politically toxic, it is likely that Tsipras will undertake another round of telephone diplomacy with key EU leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
He spoke to several prominent EU leaders earlier this week to underline the Greek government’s conviction that it has honored its promises to creditors and it is their turn to reciprocate with debt relief.