Greece has accused German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of insulting his Greek counterpart, the latest deterioration in a relationship stained by Berlin’s tough line on Greece’s debt woes.
Schaeuble, who has become a lightning rod for Greek frustrations, called Yanis Varoufakis “foolishly naive” in his communications in Greek media after EU discussions on his country in Brussels.
Constantinos Koutras, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday:
“There was an official complaint from our ambassador in Berlin to the German Foreign Ministry on Tuesday night.
“It was a complaint after what he (Schaeuble) said about Mr. Varoufakis. As a member of a country that is our friend and our ally, he cannot personally insult a colleague.”
Koutras did not specify what the alleged insult was. Foreign media covering Schaeuble in Brussels did not report the “foolishly naive” comment, leading to suggestions in some local newspapers that he was possibly mistranslated.
Greece’s new far-left government got its political power on a vow to relax the conditions of a €240 billion ($250 billion) bailout, which it says have suffocated its economy, causing mass unemployment and poverty.
However, Varoufakis has so far made little headway against a largely skeptical EU, most of which has backed Germany’s insistence on rigorous financial austerity, while his outspoken media interviews have clearly annoyed his more discreet EU partners.
With ties already at a low ebb, Greece renewed its campaign to seek compensation for the Nazis’ brutal occupation in World War Two this week, an issue that Berlin says got settled decades ago.
Varoufakis to Greek television on Wednesday:
“Mr. Schaeuble has told me I have lost the trust of the German government. I have told him that I never had it. I have the trust of the Greek people.”
Last month, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to apologize after a newspaper close to his Syriza party depicted Schaeuble as a Nazi spouting comments invoking the Holocaust.
Avgi (The Dawn) newspaper, in a Thursday cartoon of Schaeuble:
“Greeks, you are accused of wanting to live! This desire of yours is punished by death!”