Estonia

Tony Barber

The view from Toompea hill over Tallinn bay and the Old Town of Estonia’s capital is justly considered one of the glories of the Baltic region. Scarcely less memorable is a plaque on the wall of Stenbock House, the 18th-century mansion on Toompea hill which is the official seat of Estonia’s government. 

Tony Barber

If Greek citizens aren’t angry enough at the condescending and ignorant manner in which northern Europeans discuss their plight, I invite them to inspect the opinions of Jürgen Ligi, Estonia’s finance minister.

An interview with Mr Ligi appeared on Monday on the extremely handy European affairs blog that is published by the London School of Economics.

In answer to the question “Do you think that austerity measures in countries like Greece have gone far enough?”, here’s what the Estonian minister said:

“I honestly haven’t seen any austerity in Greece. It’s a rich country with a high level of consumption, and the present situation in Greece is far better than what we experienced in Estonia in the early 1990s. They are spending a lot – much more than they earn – so it can’t be called austerity.”

Let’s think about that.

Greece is projected next year to endure its sixth consecutive year of deep recession. By then, economic output will be 25 per cent below the peak of the boom years that marked Greece’s initial experience of eurozone membership.