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Schaeuble waging ‘psychological warfare’: Greek minister

Published on March 14, 2015

The Greek defence minister on Saturday accused German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of waging "psychological warfare" against Athens amid fraught negotiations over Greece's debt crisis.

“I do not understand why he criticises Greece every day with new statements,” Panos Kammenos told the German daily Bild. “It’s like psychological warfare.”

The German minister, whose country is the eurozone paymaster, “is poisoning relations between the two countries,” Kammenos said in Athens’ most recent broadside in an escalating war of words.

For many Greeks, Schaeuble has come to epitomise German opposition to efforts by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s radical left government to soften the crippling austerity measures conditioning Greece’s bailout.

On Thursday, Athens made a formal complaint over public comments by Schaeuble considered “condescending” to his Greek counterpart and frequent verbal sparring partner Yanis Varoufakis.

Last month Tsipras accused Spain and Portugal of engaging in “blackmail” during negotiations that led to a four-month extension to the 240 billion euro ($252 billion) bailout.

Greece and Germany have been at loggerheads since Syriza came to power in January on promises of ending austerity and erasing most of the country’s massive debt.

Germany has publicly opposed any attempt by Greece to renegotiate its bailout obligations, while Athens is putting pressure on Berlin over the controversial issue of war reparations.

On Friday, Greece pledged to use archived Nazi documents to press its claims over atrocities committed by German forces during World War II.

In the Bild interview, Kammenos — who was known for outspoken anti-German comments even before coming to office — took a personal swipe at Schaeuble by recalling a financing scandal that rocked his Christian Democratic Union party in 2000.

“It is not as if Germany and Mr. Schaeuble have always been perfect. We Greeks remember perfectly well Mr. Schaeuble having to quit the presidency of his party because he was implicated in a corruption scandal. And yet, today he’s finance minister!” Kammenos said.