The German government is on course to destroy Europe with its attempts to impose austerity across the continent, a leading French economist has claimed.
Thomas Piketty, an academic and capitalism commentator who was named the 'world's most influential thinker', launched a scathing attack on Angela Merkel and European bureaucrats on Monday for blistering hypocrisy over attempts to force Greece to adopt austere repayment plans.
In an interview with German magazine Die Welt, published just hours before Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his resignation, Piketty called for a conference on all Europe's debts, similar to ones held in the aftermath of World War Two.
"When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: 'what a huge joke!' Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations," he said.
"There is neither a reason for France, nor Germany, and especially not for Europe, to be happy. I am much more afraid that the conservatives, especially in Germany, are about to destroy Europe and the European idea, all because of their shocking ignorance of history."
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When asked if he was suggesting that states who didn't pay back their debts were winners, Piketty responded that Germany was just such a state.
The French economist, named in March by Prospect Magazine as the world's most influential thinker, made his comments ahead of emergency talks between Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande.
Discussions between European leaders are also scheduled for Tuesday in response to a resounding rejection from the Greek people of repayment plans in Sunday's referendum, and the subsequent resignation of the country's finance minister.