ATHENS – Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, already out of favor with his Eurozone peers, said he secretly taped talks with them during a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga last month.
Varoufakis, who unidentified Eurozone officials labeled a “gambler,” and “amateur,” who was in over his head in talks over stalled reforms and delayed loans, told the New York Times magazine of the taping but said he wouldn’t release them.
He returned home empty-handed and was briefly sidelined by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader for his combative and confrontational style that had failed to produce any leeway in the talks, nor release of a 7.2-billion ($8 billion) loan Greece needs desperately.
In a statement later, Varoufakis did not refute the report. But, he added, “My respect for the confidentiality of my conversations with my partners, with my peers, with the institutions, is exemplary and I believe it has been acknowledged and understood by everyone.”
He has since resumed a more active role in the talks as Greece faces a likely default if it can’t pay installments due the International Monetary Fund next month.
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4, he said Greece would pay salaries and pensions first if there isn’t enough money to also pay the IMF.
“If we can, on June 5, repay the IMF and pay pensions and salaries as well as the other obligations we have to our internal creditors, we shall,” Varoufakis said, referring to a 300-million-euro repayment due to the IMF then. “If not, we will have to prioritize pensioners and public sector workers.”