Westerwelle responded in a written statement to what he called, “the verbal escalation in the current European debate.”
He said that combative rhetoric would only serve to drive wedges between members of the 17-nation euro area. “No one can have an interest in the fronts hardening,” he said.
German officials had a prickly reaction to tart comments by Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker in two recent newspaper interviews in which he criticised Berlin’s management of the crisis as the eurozone’s biggest member.
Tensions within the eurozone over viable solutions to the crisis have threatened to boil over as the debt turmoil takes its toll on stricken countries including Greece and Spain.
Juncker, who is also Luxembourg’s prime minister, accused Germany of, “constantly conducting domestic politics with euro-questions” and treating the eurozone “like a subsidiary.”
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn also piled on pressure, telling Tuesday’s Die Welt newspaper that it would be extremely dangerous should Germany even think about leaving the euro itself.
“Germany was always strong when it was European,” he said. “I don’t want a Germany that one is afraid of, that one fears could isolate itself,” he said.
Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, called Juncker’s criticism “superfluous” and said that it “certainly won’t calm the markets”.
Another CSU official, Alexander Dobrindt, said that after the “impudence” of “twisting the facts and intimating that Germany is part of the problem,” he questioned whether Juncker could remain head of the eurozone finance ministers.
Westerwelle’s statement said, “Stabilising our currency and coping with the debt crisis are a shared task and everyone must pull together to find a solution. Under no circumstances must the axe of the hasty word be deployed to chop down what was built up over the course of decades in Europe.”