Billionaire investor George Soros said the euro zone’s debt crisis is harming the forces that have held the currency bloc together as well as the vision that led to the creation of the European Union.
“The euro crisis is threatening Europe’s cohesion and the ideals behind the European Union,” Soros said at the Martti Ahtisaari Day seminar in Helsinki today. “The attractive idea of equal states being devoted to common goals is threatened, as there is a division between countries. Investors and creditors are in charge,” he said.
Greece is under pressure to make more efforts to rein in its budget deficit and deregulate the economy. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel last month traveled to Athens to signal her willingness to keep Greece in the euro, the country is still struggling to reach its debt-reduction targets amid a combination of Greek political resistance to more cuts and recession that has brought record unemployment and mass street protests.
Greece’s debt plight has created a “humanitarian crisis” in the nation that has to be recognized, Soros said.
The investor said he is willing to “commit serious financial resources, even as the sums required are probably not within my means.” Helping Greece needs to be a joint European effort, Soros said.
European finance chiefs won’t make the call to release 31.5 billion euros ($40.1 billion) of aid for Greece that has been frozen since June when they meet in Brussels on Nov. 12, an EU official said yesterday on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private. Instead, a decision may come at the end of the month, the official said.
Soros warned that the severity of Greece’s economic crisis is giving rise to racial and ethnic tensions.
“Refugees attacked by neo-fascist organizations must be protected, especially,” he said. “Nevertheless, to help them without delving into the crisis of the general population would only fuel more hate.”