Greece's finance minister says his country's austerity is like being waterboarded by the CIA

Greece’s finance minister is making headlines again today. He’s comparing Greece’s international bailout conditions to being waterboarded in Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s biggest news magazines.

Yanis VaroufakisREUTERS/Marko DjuricaNewly appointed Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis smiles after hand over ceremony in Athens, January 28, 2015.

Here’s Varoufakis describing how Greece’s creditors, the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF (informally known as the Troika) treat the country’s economy:

“Shortly before the cardiac arrest, we are granted a few breaths of air. Then we are put under water again, and the cycle starts anew.”

The bailout Greece has been getting allows it to keep its public finances flowing, but also includes severe austerity conditions, as well as structural reforms like the privatisation of government-owned assets. When Spiegel said there were good people working at the Troika, this was Varoufakis’ response:

“There were also very good people at the CIA when waterboarding was used against their will and therefore were in a terrible moral dilemma.”

Varoufakis is demanding a cut in Greece’s total debt, something that several European finance ministers have stressed is not on the table. Just last week Varoufakis compared Greece’s current deflation and debt problems to Germany in the 1930s, just before the Nazis came to power, during an interview with German media.

Given Germany’s scepticism of US foreign policy, this comparison might play a little better, but it’s unlikely to make him many friends at the CIA.

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