Di­js­sel­bloem un­der south­ern fire

Eurogroup chief’s re­marks about bailed-out coun­tries draw an­gry re­sponse

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With the back­lashover the deroga­tory re­marks about cri­sis-stricken South­ern Euro­pean made by Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem – the chief of the eu­ro­zone’s fi­nance min­is­ters – in full swing yes­ter­day, Greek gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said the Dutch of­fi­cial was di­vi­sive and “com­pletely mis­guided.”

“[The com­ment] adopts stereo­types that widen the chasm be­tween north and south,” he said, adding that it paves the way for “ex­trem­ist views, not to men­tion sex­ist over­tones.”

Di­js­sel­bloem, who has re­fused to apol­o­gize, had whipped up a storm of in­dig­na­tion this week af­ter say­ing that South­ern Euro­pean coun­tries had squan­dered their money “on liquor and women,” but a spokesman for the Eurogroup chief in­sisted yes­ter­day that “his mes­sage is meant for all eu­ro­zone coun­tries: Sol­i­dar­ity comes with obli­ga­tions.”

But lead­ers of South­ern Euro­pean coun­tries were not buy­ing it, with Por­tu­gal’s Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nio Costa call­ing on him to step down as, he said, Europe would lose cred­i­bil­ity if such a prom­i­nent fig­ure en­gaged in “racist, xeno­pho­bic and sex­ist” re­marks.

“Europe will only be cred­i­ble as a com­mon project on the day when Mr Di­js­sel­bloem stops be­ing head of the Eurogroup and apol­o­gizes clearly to all the coun­tries and peo­ples that were pro­foundly of­fended by his re­marks,” he said.

Italy’s for­mer prime min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi also vented his anger in a Face­book post, writ­ing that if Di­js­sel­bloem “wants to of­fend Italy he should do it at the sports bar un­der his house, not in his in­sti­tu­tional role.”

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