Thursday 09 December 2021

‘We have no choice but to help Greece,’ prime minister tells MPs

The Netherlands will continue putting pressure on Greece to reform its economy but has little choice but to agree to give more financial help, prime minister Mark Rutte told parliament on Tuesday night.


Writing off the Greek debt or a return to the drachma will affect confidence in the markets in Portugal, Ireland and possibly Spain and Italy, which will have an ‘enormous effect’ on the open Dutch economy, Rutte said.
‘Look at the collapse of Lehman in September 2008,’ Rutte said. ‘Direct links with the bank were limited but the effect on the Dutch economy was enormous. We cannot take that risk again.’
Debate
Rutte was speaking during a general debate on government policy, during which he clashed several times with Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV.
Wilders says Greece should leave the euro and that the Netherlands should refuse to help a second bail-out.
‘Wilders is playing with fire, playing with savers’ money, with pensions and with industry. That is irresponsible,’ Rutte is quoted as saying. Wilders described Greece as ‘corrupt’.
Opposition MPs urged Wilders to pull out of the alliance his party has with the minority government because of his position on Greece. But Rutte defended the PVV leader, saying the partners had agreed to differ on foreign policy.
Earlier in the debate, Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer left the chamber after Wilders said the Labour party had spent 30 years bringing ‘Islamic voting fodder’ into the country. Rutte, too, said the anti-Islam party leader had gone too far.
Is Rutte right? Take part in our poll
Earlier stories
Liberal MP and Wilders clash over Greece
Wilders talks nonsense on Greek economy says central bank chief

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