Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė isn’t one to mince words. A black-belt in karate, she is one of Europe’s most outspoken leaders on issues ranging from dealing with Russia to same-sex marriage.
She’s also taken a hard line in the recent talks over whether Greece should remain in the euro. Ms. Grybauskaitė, who leads the latest country to enter the euro currency bloc, has offered some of the toughest words of any leader in the past few weeks.
“The Greek government still wants to party, but the bills have to be paid by somebody else,” she complained in a tweet last month, ahead of a make-or-break summit on whether Greece should get its third bailout in five years and avoid exiting the 19-nation euro.
Ms. Grybauskaitė leads a confident and tough-talking group of leaders and ministers from the euro’s newest members – the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and Slovenia and Slovakia, which are increasingly preaching a new kind of fiscal tough love.
Their influence is re-shaping some of the continent’s long-held alliances.
The bloc is giving Germany a new set of conservative economic allies who are demanding that E.U. governments stick to the rules, exercise budget discipline, and resist the siren call to spend their way out of slow growth or a debt crisis.
“The leading policymakers here are clearly behind the Germans. You could argue that they are more German than the Germans,” Karsten Staehr, a former official at Estonia’s central bank and now an international finance professor at Tallinn University of Technology, told Handelsblatt Global Edition. “We here would like to think of ourselves as part of ‘northern’ Europe,” he added.