ATHENS – Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who had been sidelined in talks with international lenders, will represent Greece in new talks with the Eurozone.
Varoufakis was essentially replaced by Deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos after Eurozone officials complained the Greek finance chief was too confrontational and had failed to deliver promised reforms, which led to more aid being held up.
Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis from the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party said Varoufakis still has the support of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had given him a lesser role.
“The head of the negotiating team is Mr. Varoufakis, who has the full confidence of the government,” Sakellaridis said.
There was no immediate response from Eurozone officials, some of whom reportedly had called Varoufakis an “amateur,” and “gambler,” during a disastrous meeting for Greece of the finance chiefs in Latvia where he failed to bring home any hopes of money as the country was going broke.
No reason was given why Tsipiras flip-flopped again and what role Tsakalotos would now play just as his appearance was being hailed by some Eurozone officials as a sign Greece was serious about implementing reforms and negotiating.
Sakellaridis also said the government has called on the European Central Bank to provide more emergency funding for beleaguered Greek banks which have seen a loss of more than 26 billion euros from accounts by nervous depositors fearful the country could default on loans and be forced out of the Eurozone.
Varoufakis, an economist/blogger with no previous experience in politics, tweeted on May 3 insisting that he is still in charge of negotiations.
He thanked Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz, for a Bloomberg op-ed in which the analyst called the Greek minister “a breath of fresh air in this protracted and exhausting Greek economic drama.”
Varoufakis added on Twitter that, “Despite wishful thinking-based rumours, I remain FinMin & Greece’s negotiator at EG [Eurogroup]!”