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Wolfgang Schaeuble, German elder statesman and finance minister during euro debt crisis, dies at 81

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Berlin, Dec 27: Wolfgang Schaeuble, who helped negotiate German reunification in 1990 and as finance minister was a central figure in the austerity-heavy effort to drag Europe out of its debt crisis more than two decades later, has died. He was 81.

Schaeuble died at home on Tuesday evening, his family told German news agency dpa on Wednesday.

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Schaeuble became Chancellor Angela Merkel’s finance minister in October 2009, just before revelations about Greece’s ballooning budget deficit set off the crisis that engulfed the continent and threatened to destabilize world’s financial order.

A longtime supporter of greater European unity, he helped lead a yearslong effort that aimed for deeper integration and a stricter rulebook. But Germany drew criticism for its emphasis on austerity and a perceived lack of generosity.

After eight years as finance minister, Schaeuble cemented his status as an elder statesman by becoming the German parliament’s speaker — the last step in a long front-line political career that saw him overcome daunting setbacks. (AP)

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