US defends unruly Greece as Europe steps up ‘Grexit’ threats

Germany’s vice-chancellor said “zero chances” that his country will respond to Greek demand for Nazi war reparations

Europe’s creditor powers have reacted with fury as Greece presses ahead with plans to smash its EU-IMF Troika programme and demand war reparations for Nazi occupation, raising the risk of a traumatic rupture with Athens by the end of the month.

Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, said there could be no bridging agreement for the radical Syriza government, insisting that it must stick rigidly to the terms of Greece’s €245bn bail-out package and secure a negotiated extension, or face the consequences. “If they want to deal with us, they need a programme,” he said.

He issued a clear warning to the new Greek premier Alexis Tsipras that his country will be left penniless in a hostile world. “I don’t know how financial markets will handle it, but maybe he knows better,” he said.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s chief, urged Syriza not to trifle with the EU or to overplay its hand after winning a landslide mandate last month to end austerity. “Greece shouldn’t assume that the overall mood in Europe has changed,” he said.

The EU authorities have told Mr Tsipras that a series of crucial meetings in Brussels this week are his last chance to retreat from hot campaign rhetoric and agree to an extension of the Troika bail-out.

Europe’s leaders were stunned by the aggressive tone of Mr Tsipras’s address to the Greek parliament on Sunday night. They had assumed that Syriza would hold out an olive branch once it was safely in office, shifting its stance in time-honoured EU fashion.

Instead Mr Tsipras vowed to implement the party’s radical Thessaloniki Programme in its “entirety”, including a demand for €11bn of war reparations from Germany, a move deemed deeply offensive in Berlin.

Sigmar Garbriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor and Social Democrat leader, said “the chances are zero” that his country will respond to such an extraordinary demarche. The German press decried Greece’s use of the “Nazi card” as moral blackmail.

Full article: US defends unruly Greece as Europe steps up ‘Grexit’ threats (The Telegraph)

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