RIGA, Latvia – Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was ripped at a meeting of fellow Eurozone finance chiefs as a time-wasting gambler and amateur who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
The unusually harsh assessment came as he was assailed verbally for dragging his feet for two months and failing to come up with a credible list of reforms needed to unblock a 7.2-billion euro installment as the country is running out of cash.
Varoufakis, a blogger who claims to be a game theory expert, has taken a position of being combative, defiant and deliberate “constructive ambiguity,” with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that has since 2010 put up 240 billion euros ($260 billion) in two bailouts.
His gambit isn’t working as the lenders have locked arms against him and they ganged up on him again in Riga, where he reportedly complained about their criticism.
The Eurozone chiefs said Varoufakis’s handling of the talks was irresponsible and accused him of being a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur, one of the people said, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
A Greek official in Riga, Latvia, for the meeting wasn’t able to comment on the talks when reached by phone, the news agency said. Varoufakis was the choice of Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader to be the country’s point man in the fight to reverse austerity demanded by the troika.
His peers were growing more frustrated as time goes by as Greece on Feb. 20 was given a four-month bailout extension on the promise to produce a reforms list to meet fiscal goals, but has failed to do so with Varoufakis continuing to give vague outlines and battling his counterparts.
“I demand very urgently that we get results on the table,” Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said before sitting down for talks. “If you follow the media of the past days you hear time and again that ‘Tsipras says’ and ‘Tsipras thinks’, so apparently this has been moved to leaders’ level.”