Ozadje “grškega deala”: With partners like these you don’t need enemies

Razpadanje “evropskega partnerstva” pri živem telesu. Nemcem se je očitno odtrgalo. Malce ozadja po izboru Reutersa

Such was the “tough, even violent” atmosphere, in the words of one participant, that after an overnight break the German and French finance chiefs, Wolfgang Schaeuble and Michel Sapin, sat down to clear the air between them before resuming on Sunday.

Schaeuble also crossed swords with ECB governor Mario Draghi, snapping at the Italian central banker “I’m not stupid!”

“It was crazy, a kindergarten,” said a source describing the overall course of nine hours of talks on Saturday among weary ministers attending their sixth emergency Eurogroup in three weeks. “Bad emotions have completely taken over.”

Schaeuble and others seemed to favour a “Grexit”, another participant said. The European Central Bank’s Draghi seemed “the strongest European” in the room, most opposed to the risky experiment of cutting Greece loose and braving Schaeuble’s ire by interrupting him during a discussion on Athens’ debt burden.

Unlike many of a dozen previous meetings they have had since Greeks despairing of creditor-imposed austerity elected leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in January, some of the sharpest exchanges were not with their Greek colleague but each other.

By contrast, Greek Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, appointed last week in place of the often provocative Yanis Varoufakis, seemed calm and expressed a willingness to take steps to convince creditors Athens could be trusted to implement budget and economic reform measures to unlock tens of billions of euros.

At one point a fellow minister turned to Tsakalotos and told him to ignore the rows raging around him: “Don’t worry Euclid,” he said. “It’s not your problem any more, it’s theirs.”

France, which along with the European Commission and ECB is warier than many in Germany of allowing a “Grexit” that could undermine faith in the entire currency, has worked with Greek officials to shape their proposals. With Italy, France shares concerns about Greek promises but is concerned Germany, or at least Schaeuble, is too inflexible, euro zone sources said.

One said that after months of frustration with their former Greek counterpart, some ministers were impatient with Schaeuble: “He’s switched roles with Varoufakis,” the source said.

A Greek official said he feared some in the room had made up their minds to force Athens out of the euro zone. Schaeuble’s ministry drafted a paper saying a “time-out” for a few years was the alternative to much more sweeping reforms, though several sources said Schaeuble did not spell that out at the table.

“Schaeuble’s positions are irresponsible and can bring disaster,” said Gianni Pittella, an ally of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Leader of the centre-left bloc in the European Parliament, Pittella spoke at a meeting in Brussels.

Vir: Reuters

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