Paul Mason of Channel4.com reports on Syriza’s reshuffle of its team negotiating with the Eurogroup.
To be clear, Mr Varoufakis remains in charge of the finance ministry, and of the government’s economic strategy. But by placing Mr Tsakalotos – who’s been involved from the start – at the head of the negotiating team, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is sending the strongest possible signal that he wants a compromise to keep Greece inside the Euro.
A sense of the frustration on the Greek side can be got from a briefing document, originating inside Mr Tsipras’ office, which Channel 4 News has seen.
It speaks of “memorandum inertia”, complaining that Eurogroup negotiators have continually tried to unpick the agreement Mr Varoufakis signed on 20 February.
The Wall Street Journal also presents this development as Syriza’s last-ditch effort to reach a deal with the Eurogroup.
Unless Athens is able to win last-minute concessions, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will likely soon have to choose between accepting economic policies that could split Syriza, or defaulting on Greek debt, which could lead to the country leaving the euro. Greece needs billions of euros in fresh financing at the latest by July and August, when it must repay bonds held by the European Central Bank.
Mr. Varoufakis’s outspoken, often colorfully phrased criticisms of Europe’s handling of its debt crisis have made him a global media celebrity but have alienated other European finance officials.
At last week’s meeting of the Eurogroup, as the committee of eurozone finance chiefs is known, officials say that ministers took turns berating their Greek counterpart for refusing to agree to overhauls that Athens’s creditors have demanded, such as further cuts to the pension system.
Mr. Varoufakis—who declined to attend a postmeeting dinner—was isolated and faced a “tough” and “hostile” atmosphere, some participants said.
“They are unanimous in their hate for me; and I welcome their hatred,” Mr. Varoufakis tweeted on Sunday, alluding to other eurozone finance chiefs while quoting words used in 1936 by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.