Die Zeit's Q&A on Dr Wolfgang Schäuble

Die Zeit, the German good quality newspaper, asked me three questions on Dr Schäuble. I obliged them with the answers that follow. (Predictably, some news outlets went out of their way to distort them. Such is life these days…)  

1. If you would explain to a teenager, maybe your own daughter, what your relationship to the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble looks like – what would you tell her?

I would tell my daughter that it is, from my perspective, a multi-layered relationship. There is a sense of awe that I feel from meeting with a legendary figure whose work I have been following critically for decades. Then there is a strong urge to counter his overarching approach to common problems regarding Europe. Additionally, there is some frustration at not having the opportunity to discuss in a different setting; to stage these meetings in a proper federal, democratic context in which arguments, rather than relative power, would play a more prominent role.

2. What are the European topics you probably could agree on with Mr Schäuble?

That Europe needs a political union and that, without it, our monetary union is problematic.

3. Do you think Mr Schäuble makes mistakes in his analysis of the Greek situation? If yes, which ones? 

Yes I do (as I am sure he thinks that I err in my analysis). Primarily, he associates past Greek governments with the Greek people; as if the former reflect the character of the latter. And he does not appreciate how helpful it would be for mainstream Northern Europe to find a modus vivendi with a movement (like SYRIZA in Greece) which may be very critical of European institutions but which is profoundly pro-European and eager to help bring Europe closer together.


  • everyone needs Greece within the EMU, a position shared by even the most diehard eurosceptics. At the same time one cannot blame, and is generally the consensus amongst the rest of the EU states, for asking/demanding each other state to mind their own affairs and respect the rules of the game, which nevertheless everyone has endorsed upon EMU accession.

    If one state feels the sour after-taste of European decision-making more than anyone, it is Cyprus, which has been unjustifiably as well as disproportionately punished, with deterrence in mind. Yet the phoenix was reborn out of its ashes, albeit not because of the harsh bail-in, far from that, but rather by the sheer determination of its people,….. so Greece can too.

    • So where were you during the wonderful years of false plenty, especially following the advent of the EU and Eurozone membership? Plenty of ”stunts” and “holy bones” then. I presume you believe in PASOK and ND.

    • Thanks for your response. I believed in Syriza till they betrayed my trust through ineptitude. As to where I’ve been, read my blog. I wish I could be more upbeat but reality is what it is.

  • “Die Zeit” being a “good quality newspaper” is, like with “Der Spiegel” and many more, a view that seems to fit into some dim and distant past. It is simply not true since many years.
    Anyone who still thinks one would get an undistorted, lively discussion from FAZ, Zeit, Spiegel or taz etc. is, sadly enough, wrong, and everyone can prove that for herself. At least there are reports now that 81% of greek people and still 55% of german people wish for alternative media, covering more than the deeply one-sided and biased papers we have. The “taz”, for example, lost 20% of the readers in 2014 alone.

    For the time being, we must be happy about the very few exceptions we can still find. In “Die Zeit”, after the greek elections, the young star Jochen Bittner, who is connected with these german-american “thinktanks” (lobbyists), tried to write about some Putin-Syriza connections and so on. Simply bizarre. This and other off-topic-talk was the mainstream. Yet there was, besides dozens and more of self-repeating reports like from Bittner and all, from time to time a different opinion to be found. Like from Robert Misik. Well, that is by far not enough to inform majorities better, yet it still exists.
    The Misiks are so rare these days that they might not be more than fig leafs for the “Zeit” and “Spiegel”, alas. It would be certainly no mistake, dear Yanis, to mention such things if being interviewed by once famous media like BBC, Zeit, FAZ, Spiegel, Le Monde.