ATHENS – German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble “never wanted the Greek program to succeed,” Telecoms & Media Minister Nikos Pappas said.
Germany is the biggest contributor to 326 billion euros ($340.75 billion) in three international bailouts since 2010 that have kept Greece’s economy from going under but demanded harsh austerity measures in return.
Speaking on Skai TV, Pappas said that the Greek bailout program will not undergo any changes until 2018, adding that lenders are divided in the approach to Greece.
He was referring to the International Monetary Fund which took part in the first two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($250.86 billion) with the European Union and European Central Bank but was replaced in a third of 86 billion euros ($89.89 billion) by the European Stability Mechanism.
“The IMF is not necessary to the Greek program as the European Commission questions its numbers,” Pappas said, referring to a dispute the Washington, D.C.-based agency has with its European partners of the size of a primary surplus must hit.
The IMF is arm-in-arm with the German Finance Ministry,” said Pappas, the former State Minister who was shuffled out of that position in a Cabinet shakeup but still has the ear of Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.
Pappas said Greece is facing a “political confrontation with the lenders. This is the first time that a program for Greece is working and this is because low primary budget surpluses have been agreed, with the priority being given to protecting the most vulnerable.
“Only someone who is one-sided politically can refuse to see that the Greek economy is stabilizing,” Pappas added in another apparent dig at Schaeuble.
“There is no reason for Greece to agree to additional measures,” the minister said responding to speculation that a fourth bailout may be needed as Tsipras has scrapped his opposition to austerity and is imposing more on orders of the lenders.
He denied that SYRIZA has raised the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge even though it has gone up and blamed previous governments for Greece’s ills that he said his party is curing.