BERLIN Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has described his country as the most bankrupt in the world and said European leaders knew all along that Athens would never repay its debts, in blunt comments that sparked a backlash in the German media on Tuesday.
A documentary about the Greek debt crisis on German public broadcaster ARD was aired on the same day euro zone finance ministers met in Brussels to discuss whether to provide Athens with further funding in exchange for delivering reforms.
"Clever people in Brussels, in Frankfurt and in Berlin knew back in May 2010 that Greece would never pay back its debts. But they acted as if Greece wasn't bankrupt, as if it just didn't have enough liquid funds," Varoufakis told the documentary.
"In this position, to give the most bankrupt of any state the biggest credit in history, like third class corrupt bankers, was a crime against humanity," said Varoufakis, according to a German translation of his comments.
It was unclear when the programme was recorded.
Although strident criticism of the way Greece has been treated is typical for Varoufakis, a Marxist economist, the remarks caused a stir in Germany where voters and politicians are increasingly reluctant to lend Greece money.
Bild daily splashed the comments on the front page and ran an editorial comment urging European leaders to stop providing Greece with ever more financial support.
"The Greek government is behaving as if everyone must dance to its tune. But there must be an end to this madness. Europe must not be made to look stupid," wrote a commentator.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Noah Barkin)