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Greece’s Varoufakis hails old foe Merkel for welcoming refugees

Yanis Varoufakis. Photo credit smh

Yanis Varoufakis. Photo credit smh

Greece’s firebrand ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis had words of praise Friday for his former nemesis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, over her refugees policy.

Varoufakis, an outspoken critic of Merkel’s austerity-for-aid response to the Greek debt crisis during his half-year in office, said her actions regarding refugees had been exemplary.

“As a European, it fills me with great pride how Chancellor Angela Merkel is reacting,” he said, when asked about the influx of asylum seekers to Europe.

“I wish everyone in Europe would do the same.”

He contrasted her open-door stance with that of hardline countries such as Hungary, which has fenced off its borders with Serbia and Croatia to keep migrants out.

“Imagine if Merkel had wanted to do what Hungary did. What should she have done? Erect fences? And then allow the police and the army to shoot if someone tried to climb over?” he asked.

“No, she did the right thing and thus she deserves praise… She acted like everyone in Europe should act: she didn’t try to shove the problem off onto other countries but rather saw it as a European problem.”

Germany has become the number one destination for a massive refugee influx to Europe and expects to receive up to one million asylum applications this year.

Faced with a growing domestic backlash, Merkel has adopted the slogan “we will manage” to encourage her compatriots to face up to the challenge of integrating hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and persecution.

More than 613,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, while at least 3,200 have died or gone missing making the perilous sea journey.

Relations between Germany and Greece plunged to a post-war low this year during negotiations on a third bailout for debt-mired Athens as Berlin, the EU’s effective paymaster, drove a tough bargain during protracted negotiations.

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