ATHENS – Panagiotis Lafazanis, a minister for a SYRIZA Radical Left government that ruled from 2015-19 hasn’t forgotten the humiliation Germany heaped on Greece when it was seeking bailouts depending on Germany’s banks and government.
There was a particularly demeaning headline in the German tabloid Bild in 2010 when Greece was under a PASOK Socialist government that said: “Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks! And sell the Acropolis, too!”
With Germany’s economy having budget problems and Greece’s roaring back and outstripping Germany’s, he offered a suggestion to Greece’s creditor, turnabout being fair play: sell a couple of your islands, said The Financial times.
And he told it to Bild after Germany’s constitutional court ruled that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government had broken the law by trying to use 60 billion euros ($65.23 billion) in unused pandemic funds.
Scholz wanted the money to fight climate change and modernize industry but the court decision has put his plans in disarray, much to the delight of Lafazanis, who broke off from SYRIZA to form his own party that didn’t register.
Other ideas he threw out, tongue no doubt in cheek: impose emergency taxes on businesses and individuals might be too disruptive so selling assets – including islands – seems just about right.
Referring to austerity demanded of Greece in return for three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($354.40) from 2010-2018, Lafazanis added: “Life takes revenge. Germany will now experience what it imposed on Greece.”
He didn’t specify which islands but the report said he may have been thinking of
Rügen, a popular Baltic Sea tourist spot that was in former chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency when she was rough on Greece.
One Munich newspaper called the proposal of Lafazanis “a perfidious sideswipe” at Germany. Greece didn’t see any islands – nor the Acropolis, of course – to deal with debt, the bailouts ending in 2018 and Greece’s comeback under way.