German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass has criticised Greece's treatment by its fellow European nations in the debt crisis, describing it in a new poem published yesterday as a "country sentenced to poverty".
The 84-year-old's latest work, Europe's Disgrace, was published in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung less than two months after Grass triggered a storm of criticism with another intervention on a political issue -- a prose poem sharply criticising Israel amid the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
Grass wrote that Greece has been "pilloried naked as a debtor".
He ended his poem with the warning: "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."
The head of the German parliament's european affairs committee, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, shrugged aside Grass's criticism.
"I think we should not take this very seriously, because his criticism completely passes by reality -- particularly the reality that Greece was helped enormously," Gunther Krichbaum told Deutschlandfunk radio.
Grass established himself as a leading literary figure with novel The Tin Drum in 1959, and won the Nobel Prize in 1999.