Martin Schulz, the ex-European Parliament president and former president of Germany’s Social Democratic party, said that Greece’s bailout programmes were never just and that they included wrongheaded policies.
“The bailout programmes were never just in fact. It would have been just if the dialogue were conducted on a different basis, or if Greece had received greater aid in terms of the volume of investment. Measures were taken, such as wage and pension cuts. Yet, in my view other measures could have been taken that would have produced the same results,” Schulz told Deutsche Welle in an interview.
Schulz also said he did not favour the participation of the IMF in the programme, but that Chancellor Angela Merkel and then finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble deemed it necessary due to the Fund’s know-how and experience, though they never accepted the fact that Greece’s debt was not sustainable.
Schulz was also asked if the bailout exit is cause for celebration, given the fact that the Greek people are over-indebted, that unemployment remains high, that the younger generation of Greeks have chosen to leave the country and work abroad, that pensions will be cut further, and that the public debt remains enormous.
“Greece has taken huge steps towards its refinancing. That is the basic precondition for attracting investment to the country. The negative developments that you describe will be absorbed by the upgrading of Greece’s credit worthiness. When capital flows in again from investors, then young people will find jobs again.
Schulz said that he espouses Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ view that after the end of the bailout programmes Greece will regain its economic sovereignty.
“I think it will. If we define independence as a situation in which a country is funding its budget from the markets and its deficits from the loans of other countries, then one can speak of regaining independence in large measure,” Schulz said.