German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been making waves in Greece.
After praising Athens for making financial reforms crucial to receiving bailout money, he chided them for lobbying for debt forgiveness at the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce.
“I would make one very serious remark. I would like to ask all of you not to continue in this time this discussion on a new haircut. It is not in your interest. We have agreed both the second program for Greece and it was difficult to get it, I tell you,” reiterated Schäuble.
These words will do little to lift his public image in Athens. The minister is deeply unpopular among Greeks who see him as the source of biting austerity measures. On his first visit to the country since 2009, Schäuble’s motorcade wove through empty streets, closed as a precaution against protests, a fact which did not go down well in parliament.
“Who does Mr. Schaeuble think he is that Greek citizens may not protest about his presence and his policies on Greece? What kind of regime is this, you seal off all of downtown Athens and even the airport ring road so that Mr. Schaeuble does not hear his subjects’ cries?” demanded Syriza MP Panagiotis Lafazanis during a sitting.
On Wednesday night you could barely see the streets for people, as thousands protested against the latest wave of public job cuts voted through in Parliament in order to secure seven billion euros in aid.