Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Varoufakis resigns ahead of new EU talks

  • Varoufakis (r) with Finland's finance minister at recent Eurogroup (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his resignation the morning after the 61-percent victory of the No in the referendum.


He said on his blog his resignation is designed to help Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras in his negotiations with EU partners.

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"Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my … ‘absence’ from its meetings", he wrote.

"Tsipras judged [the idea] to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today".

He added: "I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum".

"I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride”.

Varoufakis, a 54-year old economist, became Greece's finance minister after Syriza's victory at the last general election in January.

Outspoken and a new-comer to politics, who represented a government which questioned Europe's economic dogmas, Varoufakis irked many of his Eurogroup colleagues by his long interventions in the ministers' meetings. 



At one point, at the Eurogroup summit in Riga in April, he was reportedly called an "amateur", a "time waster" and a "gambler" by his colleagues.

He denies this.

But sources in the centre-right EPP party say EPP finance ministers made a collective decision to attack him personally in the media to harm his credibility.

After that summit, he was removed from the position of Greece's main negotiator with the creditors, but he remained in Tsipras' close circle of advisers.

"Tsipras and Varoufakis are on the same line, he is not a loose cannon," a Greek journalist told EUobserver just before the referendum.

Meanwhile, Varoufakis' relationship with the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, one of the Eurogroup's most influential members, was difficult from the start.

"It is frustrating that we are not able to speak with each other in a context where arguments count more than relative power”, Varoufakis said last month in an interview to Germany's Die Zeit.

Sources said Schaeuble did not even speak in the latest Eurogroup meetings, in a show of disagreement with his Greek colleague's stance.

It was clear that any discussion between Schaeuble, who appears ready to push Greece out of the eurozone, and Varoufakis would be very difficult.

A Eurogroup meeting is scheduled on Tuesday (7 July) to prepare a summit of euro leaders in the evening.

Tsipras, who promised he would reach an agreement with the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the 48 hours after the referendum, is expected to replace Varoufakis with someone who participated in the previous talks, like his main negotiator in Brussels, Euclid Tsakalotos.

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