They’re both out of office now but a new book claims that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was so furious that then Greek leader George Papandreou wanted a referendum on a bailout deal in 2011 that Sarkozy said his colleague was “f–king psycho!”
That was put forth in the book The Dilemma by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who said he also came under pressure then, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to succumb to a similar bailout deal that crushed Greece with harsh austerity measures.
Sarkozy was enraged that Papandreou, bending under relentless protests, strikes and riots, wanted to let Greeks decide whether to accept a second bailout. The French leader feared that if the deal was rejected it could have pushed Greece out of the Eurozone
The outburst came as European Union leaders were exasperated that Papandreou, under rising protests and riots over tough austerity measures he was imposing on the orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB), was going to let Greeks decide their own fate.
That, said Sarkozy and Merkel, could have brought down the 17-member Eurozone and Sarkozy was exasperated that Papandreou put the EU in a predicament.
In his book, Zapatero, who served from 2004-11, said the feisty former French leader put his leg on a chair during a meeting of EU leaders and almost jumped on a table as he continued a tirade against Papandreou, repeatedly calling him an “a–hole.”
At the time in late 2011, it was also reported that Sarkozy told U.S. President Barack Obama that Papandreou was undermining the Eurozone. “Crazy Papandreou comes up with his referendum,” Sarkozy allegedly told Obama. “It’s because he is depressed, so there’s no point giving him a hard time about it. He’s already on his knees. Knockout.”
As it turned out, Sarkozy was right about Papandreou’s fate as the Greek leader and then PASOK Socialist leader withdrew the call for the referendum but, politically beaten, resigned in November 2011 in favor of a temporary coalition government before New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras became Premier in June 2012 in a second election after a first failed to give him enough of the vote to win outright.