Schaeuble pours cold water on SYRIZA debt plans

After meeting with Yanis Varoufakis, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was unable to bridge differences with his Greek counterpart over plans by the SYRIZA-led government to renegotiate Greece’s debt and reverse austerity measures.

In an interview with German TV channel ARD late Thursday, Schaeuble said his first meeting with Varoufakis in Berlin had failed to produce results.

“We were both friendly and polite … He told me his position, which he has repeatedly said in recent days, and I tried to explain our position to him and we were not able to bridge the differences,” he said.

Schaeuble brushed off statements by SYRIZA officials who have declared the end of the troika in Greece.

“Of course they will have to work with the three institutions. They don’t like the word ‘troika’ – fine. But the conditionality of the program can only be fulfilled with the three institutions. Without [the troika] there is no program,” he said.

In the same interview, the German finance minister said that although he respected the will of Greek voters, he has the same respect for the will of voters in other European countries – including German voters.

“We have great respect for the will of Greek voters. However, my respect for the will of the German voters and the will of voters in other European countries is just as great,” he said.

Schaeuble added that Greece had already made considerable progress, and warned the new government not to throw this away.

“They have economic growth once again. They are better than what we expected two years ago, but they are not out of the woods,» he said. «If they discard everything now, they will destroy the basis which they have achieved in recent years.” [Combined reports]