Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker: If Greece Doesn’t Reform, ‘It Can’t Expect Solidarity’
In a SPIEGEL interview, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Euro Group, talks about the need for Greece to push ahead with economic reforms. If the country doesn’t meet Europe’s demands, it will have to declare bankruptcy in March, he says.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Prime Minister, should one be allowed to give money to a corrupt country?
Juncker: I can already guess what you’re referring to.
SPIEGEL: We’re referring to something you said yourself. Not too long ago, you called Greece a “corrupt state.”
Juncker: It’s true that, three years ago, I said that there was corruption in Greece. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be allowed to support Greece. On the contrary, one has to help Greece if the country is making honest efforts to put a stop to the corrupt elements that were recognizably there. And Greece is doing just that.
SPIEGEL: Still, these efforts are not bearing any fruit. The so-called troika — made up of representatives from the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — has just concluded that practically nothing has changed in the catastrophic state of Greece’s public sector.
Juncker: Greece’s government is itself aware of the fact that there are elements of corruption at all levels of the public administration, and it has realized how much this issue — which continues to come to the surface — weighs on the country’s image. The Greeks are currently working hard to stop corruption within government agencies.
SPIEGEL: Though your optimism is admirable, it’s already clear that the second aid package for Greece will have to be increased once again because there is a shortfall of tens of millions of euros in the financial plans. Where should the money come from?
Juncker: For a start, private creditors have to make their contribution. Then, we will talk with the Greek government about additional austerity measures. And only after that will we see whether the second aid package, with the €130 billion ($170 billion) that is currently planned, will suffice.