* Tsipras requested meeting with Schaeuble on Berlin visit
* Greek leftist dismisses EU/IMF reforms as failure
* Schaeuble says no alternative if Greece is to keep euro
By Annika Breidthardt and Matthias Sobolewski
BERLIN, Jan 14 Greek leftist leader Alexis
Tsipras told German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on
Monday that Berlin-backed reforms being pursued by the Greek
government had failed totally, driving up unemployment and
Tsipras, whose Syriza opposition party leads opinion polls
in Greece, has led the fight against spending cuts and tax hikes
that Germany, its European partners and the IMF have insisted on
in return for billions of euros in aid to stave off bankruptcy.
The 38-year-old Greek politician requested a meeting with
Schaeuble during a visit to Berlin and told reporters
afterwards: "I told him that the austerity programmes have
failed all over Europe and especially in Greece."
"Now we must deal with their impact: poverty, unemployment,
the rise of fascism. This nightmare must not return or spread
across Europe," said Tsipras. "Our vision is to see Greece
exiting the crisis with its people standing on their feet."
Greece is in the sixth year of a recession that has fuelled
anger against foreign lenders - especially Germany - and the
Greek political class, boosting the far-right Golden Dawn party.
Schaeuble belongs to a generation of European politicians
who believe that forging closer integration in the European
Union is the best way to safeguard democracy and peace.
A German finance ministry source said the minister had "told
Mr Tsipras unequivocally that there is no alternative to the ...
implementation of the economic adjustment programme. Minister
Schaeuble urged Mr Tsipras to back the path embarked upon."
Tsipras, who says he does not want his country to leave the
common European currency, was told by Schaeuble that "Greece can
only remain in the euro if the reform programme is successfully
implemented", the German source said.
Schaeuble, 70, had agreed to see Tsipras because he wanted
to encourage all political forces in Greece to support the
reforms pushed forward by conservative Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras, an aide to the minister said.
But even though their differences on how to tackle the euro
crisis remained wide, Tsipras called the talks friendly,
constructive and "a good start". "Our differences are only
political, not personal," he said.
Polls suggest the latest 49 billion euros in bailout funds
secured by Samaras in December have not boosted the Greek
people's optimism about the crisis and many believe Samaras is
failing to fight endemic tax evasion.
Tsipras, who met no German government officials when he came
to Berlin last year, repeated his criticism of Chancellor Angela
Merkel's conservative government for demanding Greek austerity
measures during a rally with hardline German leftists in Berlin
"Merkel is responsible for the austerity policies that are
suffocating southern Europe," Tsipras told a rally marking the
anniversary of murders of communist icons Rosa Luxemburg and
Karl Liebknecht in Berlin in 1919.