Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is in Germany on Thursday, and he’s making comments that are going to catch a lot of attention.
In a news conference with German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Varoufakis said Greece now is like Germany in the 1930s, before the Nazis came to power.
Here are Varoufakis’ comments, according to Open Europe, a think tank that was tweeting out the lines:
- “Germany should understand the most what it’s like to be stuck in a gruesome deflation and debt crisis.”
- “When I go home today, I will go home to a country where the third-biggest party is not a neo-Nazi but a Nazi party.”
- “Germany can be proud of our fight against Nazis. We now need the German help.”
He’s referring there to Golden Dawn, the extremist ultra-right party that finished third in Greece’s elections in late January. Golden Dawn won 6.3% of the vote and 17 of the parliament’s 300 MPs. Images of the party’s fascist-style rallies made international news in 2012 and 2013.
In the early 1930s, Germany went through a period of deflation, as Greece now is (though Germany’s was much more severe). The economic crisis of the period coincided with a huge rise in support for fascism: The Nazi party rose from 2.6% support in the 1928 election to 32.3% in 1932.
Schaeuble said he and Varoufakis had “agreed to disagree” in the rest of the news conference, according to Bloomberg. Germany has been one of the eurozone countries most opposed to reducing Greece’s public debt burden, as the new government in Athens is demanding.
Varoufakis told German media earlier in the week that he is the finance minister “of a bankrupt country.” He and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras want to scrap the bailout agreement that Greece has with European institutions and the International Monetary Fund and reverse much of the austerity brought in over the past five years.
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