German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble appeared unmoved Monday by the attempts of Greek leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras to persuade him that Berlin needs to change its tune on the debt-hit nation’s rescue program.
During a near one-hour meeting between the two men in the German capital, the SYRIZA chief told Schaeuble that the economic reforms mandated by Germany, its EU peers and the IMF have been a complete failure, and that they have instead fed unemployment and poverty.
“I told him that the austerity programs have failed all over Europe and especially in Greece,” Tsipras said after the meeting, held upon his request. “Now we must deal with their impact: poverty, unemployment, the rise of fascism,” he said in reference to Golden Dawn.
Sources in the German government said Schaeuble had poured cold water on Tsipras’s demand for an alternative economic course, suggesting that Greece’s euro membership remains tied to the implementation of the economic adjustment program.
Yet according to SYRIZA officials, Schaeuble acknowledged that although the objectives have been set by creditors, responsibility for the policy mix rests with the Greek government. Tsipras reportedly blamed lagging reforms on rampant red tape and political entanglement with business interests.
Tsipras, who on Sunday attended a rally marking the anniversary of the assassinations of communist icons Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919, will Tuesday meet with German federal Deputy Labor Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel.