Schaeuble defends tough line on Greek reforms

Schaeuble defends tough line on Greek reforms

As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepares to present a positive narrative at next month’s Thessaloniki International Fair about how the country is turning a corner ahead of the next review by international creditors in the fall, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has reportedly suggested that Athens should be grateful to him for his tough stance on economic reform and austerity.

“One day they will build a statue in my honor in Greece in a show of gratitude for the pressure that I imposed in order for necessary reforms to be carried out,” the outspoken minister was quoted as saying by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

According to the same newspaper, Schaeuble aims to turn the European Stability Mechanism into a European version of the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s creditors. The concept is that of a European monetary fund that would help eurozone states in financial crisis but subject to strict terms, such as those that underpinned the IMF’s support to Greece and other countries in recent years.

Other ideas, such as the possibility of introducing growth-inducing measures in such countries, were reportedly rejected by Schaeuble.

French President Emmanuel Macron meanwhile has suggested that the eurozone should have its own central budget which it could tap if necessary to support member-states in financial difficulty. He is also said to back the idea of a eurozone finance minister, another idea opposed by Berlin.

Macron is due in Athens in the first week of September for an official visit that government sources hope will bolster Tsipras’s positive narrative while there are also signs that French firms might confirm their interest in investing in the Thessaloniki Port Authority.

Two weeks ahead of his appearance before the political and business elite at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Tsipras visited the northern port yesterday for talks with representatives of local business groups.

Back in Athens, Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis sought to douse speculation about an imminent government reshuffle, saying that the cabinet will only be changed after a review by bailout monitors later this year.

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