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Greece sends 'Scrooge' Xmas cards

December 25, 2016

Greece's finance minister has sent Christmas e-cards to staff featuring the Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge. The move is a dig at international lenders who have pushed Greece into deep austerity.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/B. Engler

Finance Minister Euclide Tsakalotos (pictured above) sent the e-cards to staff and journalists with an illustration by caricaturist John Leech from the Charles Dickens novel "A Christmas Carol."

The drawing features the miser protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge, who hates Christmas and refuses to give his staff time off or donate to charity.

The cards, which show the ghost of Scrooge's dead partner Jacob Marley telling him that he must change his ways or face eternal damnation, are clearly a jibe directed at the country's creditors.

Message for whom?

"Perhaps in all of our Christmas tales there is a terrifying character like Ebenezer who receives the season's spirit in an immense solitude, and closed like an oyster. And maybe our Christmas tale is no exception," read the card's caption.

"But, dear friends and colleagues, our wishes go beyond all the Ebenezer's of this world. We don't give up on our wishes," it said.

International lenders, including the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, have imposed deep cuts on Greece after the country came close to bankruptcy.

In return, the Athens government has received three international bailouts since 2010.

Christmas bonus controversy

The implementation of the latest accord has been complicated by the decision of the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to give a one-off Christmas bonus to old-age pensioners, without consulting creditors first.

Several EU partners - especially Germany - have objected to the measure, and threatened to suspend a recently announced debt relief scheme for Athens.

News agencies reported that on Christmas Eve cracks also seemed to appear in the Eurogroup's unforgiving stance.

Sources said Saturday their concerns had been "alleviated" by a letter from the Greek authorities explaining the tax measures.

As a consequence, they said, the group would resume working on debt measures for Greece - but only after Christmas.

mm/kl (AFP, Reuters)