Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varousfakis has accused the EU of employing “North Korean” levels of propaganda over the effect of its economic policies on the country.
Varoufakis made the claim in response to a video published by Eurogroup president Mario Centeno to mark the end of Greece’s final, three-year bailout programme.
In the video, Centeno says Greece has “regained the control it fought for” and is now reaping the rewards of the economic reforms imposed on the country in exchange for loans.
“I know these benefits are not yet felt in all quarters of the population but gradually, they will,” says Centeno in a nod to unpopular austerity measures which were the price of the loans.
Varoufakis wrote on Twitter that the EU was “adding insult to Greece’s unbearable misery with a video of North Korean propaganda machine aesthetics/ immorality.”
The EU Commission adding insult to Greece’s unbearable misery with a video of North Korean propaganda machine aesthetics/ immorality
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) August 20, 2018
Centeno wasn’t the only EU leader to misjudge the tone of their comments about an eight year programme which has had profound effects on Greece’s economy and society.
EU Council president Donald Tusk was also criticised for a celebratory tweet reading “You did it! Congratulations to Greece and its people.”
The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund has lent Greece £289 billion since 2010 – the biggest bailout in history.
In exchange, the ‘Troika’ imposed austerity measures and tax rises which shrank the country’s economy by a quarter and sent overall unemployment to 28% and youth unemployment to 58%.
Poverty rates soared as wages, pensions and social benefits like healthcare were slashed.
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks, especially the young, emigrated in search of a better quality of life.
Varoufakis said today: “The bankrupt Greek state was given more loans that were impossible and remain impossible to repay under conditions of harsh austerity that guaranteed the diminution of the GDP of the country from which those loans would be repaid.
“Europe committed a major crime against logic, against itself, against the people of Europe.”
Exciting the bailout programme means there will be no new austerity measures, but the Greek government will be forced to continuing the delivery of those its already signed up to.
Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economics, said today he felt an “emotional solidarity” with Greek people who have paid the price of the financial crisis.
But he insisted it was Greece’s failings that were responsible for austerity rather than the EU.
He said: “Greece will emerge stronger from the crisis and the programmes and the reforms will have strengthened the structures of the Greek economy to make it possible to improve the lives of Greeks. At the end of the day, they are measures which had to be taken.”