Syriza Sidelines Varoufakis To Appease Eurogroup

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.


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Apr 28, 2015 3:16 PM

Varoufakis has a vision — a practical one — for salvaging the Eurozone and changing the financial structures so that nothing of this sort can happen ever again. And a lot of the top political and economic advisors to other European governments actually agree that his three-point plan would work, would achieve what he argues it will. The problem is Merkel and the German desire to remain the exceptional nation in Europe, i.e. to preserve a position the present structures allow Germany, which is to lord it over the rest of continental Europe. For all I know, Varoufakis may be thinking that if Syriza just lasts this set of German leaders out, it may have more success with whoever replaces them — which may be an unduly optimistic hope.

Apr 28, 2015 10:19 AM

Greece need to just bite the bullet
They either do what the EU want which will result in unbearable costs for the people
Or they default and renegotiate the debt.
At this point staying in the euro is impossible though they will be in the EU.