Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble did everything in his power to infuriate three distinct groups of people today.
First, in a statement that may infuriate several million German immigrants, Schaeuble said that Muslims who migrate to Europe should understand that there are better places for them to live if they do not want to accept the European way of life.
Such migrants who do not accept Europe's way of living should be told "you have made the wrong decision", Schaeuble said during a round table discussion in Berlin. "There are better places in the world to live under Islamic law than Europe," he added. It was not clear if he was envisioning the US as one of the fallback plans for the millions of migrants Angela Merkel's open door policies greeted with open arms in 2015.
Then, taking a veiled swipe at some 7 million Greeks, Schauble said that if European countries want to keep the euro, they must implement the common currency's framework of joint responsibility.
Finally, taking a shot at a substantial portion of the French population, the finance minister said that Germany needs a strong, pro-European France to hold together the European project, veteran German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday, less than two weeks out from the first round of the French presidential election.
The comments from Schaeuble once again confirmed the German government's revulsion to National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who wants to abandon the euro currency and is expected to go through to a run-off vote. A success for Le Pen, and a redenomination of the French franc, would lead to disaster for the euro and likely result in a return to the Deutsche Mark, ending the cheap currency benefits Germany gets from participating in the common currency.
"We need a strong France ... we need a pro-European France," Schaeuble said during a round table discussion in Berlin quoted by Reuters. "We need France to hold together Europe."
"I hope Le Pen does not become French president," he added, seemingly unhappy with the democratic process in France.
It wasn't just Le Pen, however, as Schauble also took aim at the far left: "Le Pen, Melanchon in the second round would be a nightmare", the finance minister added.
On Tuesday, Schaeuble said that polls show French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron will likely to enter second round voting and win the presidency, and added that he would “probably” vote for former Rothschild banker.
No surprise there.
France votes in the first round of its presidential election in less than two weeks, on April 23, with the top two placed candidates going head-to-head on May 7. Earlier on Wednesday, an Ifop-Fiducial poll showed Le Pen leading narrowly in the first round, but likely to lose the run-off to centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Reiterating Berlin's need for France to play a full role in the European Union, which was stunned by Britain's vote last June to leave the bloc, Schaeuble added: "Germany cannot lead Europe alone."
"That doesn't work, that is completely clear," he said. "We need France at least as much as France needs us." Germany had a responsibility to lead in Europe due to its "geostrategic position", Schaeuble said, but added: "Some people expect too much of us ... politically, we are not as strong as France." To millions of European that may be the best news of the day.