Europe stood by and watched as Greek elite plundered country, says Germany’s Gabriel

Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel says the elite in Greece has plundered the country for years while Europe just watched it happen.

MAGDEBURG, GERMANY (JULY 7, 2015) (REUTERS) – The Greek elite has plundered the country for years and Europe stood by and watched them do it, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday (July 7).

Gabriel was speaking in the eastern German city of Magdeburg at a citizens’ forum entitled “living well in Germany.”

Asked by a young man in the audience what he would tell Chancellor Angela Merkel if she asked for his advice on how to deal with the Greek debt crisis, Gabriel responded “I am also often annoyed by what the current Greek government is doing.”

“But part of the truth is: the misery is not their fault. Rather, it’s the previous governments, the economic and political elite which plundered the country. It must be said that Europe stood by and watched for a pretty long time and said nothing and did nothing.”

His comments came shortly after Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the proposals that Greece’s new finance minister will present to the Eurogroup on Tuesday do not differ significantly from the reform plans that Greeks rejected in a referendum on Sunday.

Without citing a source, the Sueddeutsche said the proposals that Euclid Tsakalotos will present to the group of euro zone finance ministers include keeping a value added tax (VAT) rebate for Greek islands and a VAT rate of 13 percent for restaurants.

The proposals would include limited cuts in defence spending, the newspaper added.