Greece and Germany trade bitter words over bailout

Greece and Germany are entering an increasingly bitter war of words on whether Athens needs to extend its bailout programme as Friday’s deadline for a deal edges closer, reports

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras told parliament  that he was working towards a deal with the eurozone but would not compromise.

The standoff has seen both sides break the unwritten rules of EU meetings and diplomacy – either by leaking documents as negotiations are ongoing or actively briefing against one another in press conferences afterwards.

Tsipras took the highly unusual move of singling out Wolfgang Schaeuble and accusing the German finance minister of having “lost his cool” on Greece.

The speech came after Monday’s Eurogroup broke up in disarray after Greek officials leaked a paper meant to be signed by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – the paper was soon all over Twitter.

Greece immediately rejected its uncompromising wording on continuing the same bailout programme.

Varoufakis later told press that the ill-fated paper had been handed to him by Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem just minutes before the meeting.

It replaced a more emolliently-worded paper by the European Commission that Varoufakis found “splendid” and would have signed.

Tsipras backed Varoufakis’ account of the event in Tuesday’s speech and called the Eurogroup paper “provocative” and said it showed that “certain circles” in the eurozone – an apparent reference to Germany – wanted to undermine the Greek government.

The Greek PM pledged to hold firm on election promises and announced the reversal of some structural reforms. He also appeared to attempt to raise this EU leader level noting that a solution to the impasse would not come from technocrats but from “elected political leaders”.

 His German counterpart Angela Merkel has so far been relatively quiet on the issue, noting only that the meeting between her and Tsipras at last week’s summit had been “friendly”.

But the rhetoric has reached a different level when it comes to Wolfgang Schaeuble.