While it hasn't hit our Spat Watch level just yet, tensions between Greece and the current head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, are starting to heat up.
Things started on Saturday when Lagarde made some unsavory comments in an interview with the Guardian about Greece's tax-paying habits, or lack there-of. In the interview, Lagarde was asked about how she deals with suggesting Greek financial measures that might, "mean women won't have access to a midwife when they give birth, and patients won't get life-saving drugs, and the elderly will die alone for lack of care." Lagarde said she, "thinks more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education," because, "I think they need even more help than the people in Athens." Lagarde then chose to add, "As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax." The Guardian asked if she was saying, "you've had a nice time and now it's payback time," to the Greeks and Laraged responded, "Yeah." The Guardian asked if she thinks about Greek children, who couldn't be held responsible, and Lagarde said, "Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax."
As the New York Times' Harvey Morris points out, the Greeks found her remarks to be a little insulting. Commenters lit up Lagarde's Facebook page after the Guardian interview was released. Lagarde issued a statement via Facebook that attempted to soften her remarks in the Guardian interview. She wrote:
As I have said many times before, I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing. That's why the IMF is supporting Greece in its endeavor to overcome the current crisis and return to the path of economic growth, jobs and stability. An important part of this effort is that everyone should carry their fair share of the burden, especially the most privileged and especially in terms of paying their taxes. That is the point I was emphasizing when I spoke to the Guardian newspaper as part of a broader interview some time ago.
The post gained over 20,000 comments, many of them in Greek, many of them still angry with her. Greece still hasn't managed to form a government. We've prepared for what might happen if Greece leaves the Euro, and we've switched back to preparing for them to stay, but that plan could change again any minute.