Noonan critical of Greek stance

Mon, May 21, 2012, 01:00

IRELAND AND Portugal have attacked Greece for “stoking up the fire” in the euro zone with its consistent failure to adhere to austerity measures.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar attacked Greece at last week’s Eurogroup meeting, according to Der Spiegel. They said it was “unacceptable” that they made huge efforts to fulfil budget programmes while Greece “unerringly breaks its reform commitments”. Other ministers agreed, the magazine reported, saying Greek “negligence” was “stoking up again and again the fire of contagion”.

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker told the meeting: “If we had a secret ballot over keeping Greece in the euro zone, a huge majority would be against.”

A senior European official confirmed the Spiegel report yesterday, saying Irish and Portuguese criticism of Greece was “factually correct. When Juncker opened the meeting, there was a long 30 seconds of silence, but once [Ireland and Portugal] got stuck in, they all gave it hot and heavy to the Greeks.”

The official described as “utterly black” the mood at the meeting – which ended with Mr Juncker appealing to finance ministers to maintain a public show of confidence for Greece. Ahead of this week’s informal summit in Brussels, that support is dwindling as private political criticism increasingly becomes public.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble was quoted in Bild am Sonntag: “Whoever tells the Greeks they don’t have to meet the savings programme is lying to the Greek people.”