Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has described the measures taken by the EU to settle the economic crisis in Greece as a “terrible job.” The comment comes as Greece agrees to new reforms that are set to help the country qualify for cheaper loans.
“Isn’t it yet another piece of evidence that the European Union is particularly good at doing a terrible job, but handling what should be a very manageable crisis,” Varoufakis told CNN on Tuesday.
He noted that, in fact, the goals set for Athens are nearly impossible to reach. “The people at the IMF [International Monetary Fund]… told us that the Greek debt is unsustainable and the austerity that is being [imposed] upon Greece is catastrophic for the program itself.”
The minister added that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble “is determined” to get Greece out of the EU and that the bailout program was initially designed to fail. Varoufakis stressed that he obtained the information from Schauble himself.
“Merkel simply wants to extend and pretend until the German election is out of the way. The Greek government pretends it’s going to fulfill its target… but won’t do it. Yet again. It’s Europe.”
When asked whether the current Greek government plans to leave in case it doesn’t make any progress, Varoufakis said that it would depend on the negotiations between Merkel and Schauble.
“Schauble wants Grexit, Merkel doesn’t want Grexit. They haven’t worked it out… Until they make up their mind, this government is going to stay in power,” the minister noted.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that Berlin should do everything possible to help Greece finally get back on its feet.
“I think it’s only right that a country as big, strong and stable as Germany does everything it can to keep Europe together,” Gabriel said on Tuesday as quoted by Reuters. He stressed, however, that Greece on its part should stick to the obligations in the agreements it signed up to.
A rally of thousands of people organized by the All Workers Military Front (PAME), was held in Athens late Tuesday. Protesters marched through the city center denouncing the country’s austerity measures and accusing the bailout program of impoverishing people in Greece.
“The government, but also the big employers and the EU, should be certain about one thing: We continue coordinating our fight, we call the working class to organize itself and take control of their lives,” PAME’s executive secretary Giorgos Perros, said as quoted by Ruptly news agency.
On Monday, Greece and its international lenders agreed to a new set of reforms that would deal with Greek pensions, income tax and the labor market in exchange for a new tranche of loans, Reuters reported. The new reforms are to be enforced from the beginning of 2019, according to Greek authorities.
Experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the euro zone bailout fund ESM and the IMF are to visit Athens to discuss the details of the deal, the chair of the Eurozone Finance Ministers group Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.
“There will be a change in the policy mix, moving away from austerity and putting more emphasis on deep reforms which is also a key element for the IMF,” he said.
In August 2015, Greece with its struggling economy agreed to a bailout deal closed with international creditors that provided Athens with about €32 billion ($33.7 billion) from the total of €86 billion ($90.7 billion).