German minister expresses sympathy for ordinary Greeks | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 13.06.2012
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German minister expresses sympathy for ordinary Greeks

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he feels with the man in the street who is suffering from unparalleled austerity in debt-stricken Greece. But he sees no alternative to tightening belts.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Wednesday he was well aware of the pain felt by ordinary Greeks facing harsh austerity measures. He told the Stern news magazine that he felt "huge sympathy" for those people.

"Things are rarely fair in a crisis; the little man suffers and the rich feather their own nests," Schäuble quipped. "It's not easy to cut the minimum wage in Greece when you think of the many people who own a yacht."

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Southern Europe in trouble

But despite the sympathy expressed for ordinary Greek citizens, the minister said austerity across the board was required to get the country back on track.

Facing the realities

Schäuble played down Greece's forthcoming election on June 17, which will be watched nervously by policy makers and market players amid fears that the troubled southern European nation may ditch its loan agreements with international partners.

"The Greeks are free to vote for what they want," the minister argued. "But an election result will not change anything about the real situation of the country, which is in painful crisis owing to decades of economic mismanagement."

In the same interview for the Stern magazine, Schäuble said Germany profited from the single euro currency like no other nation in the 17-member bloc. He advised potential investors to keep banking on the currency despite the current market turmoil.

hg/tj (AFP, Reuters)

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