Thursday 21 May 2015

Deciphering Varoufakis – The Latest Installment

It is truly difficult to understand the Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

In a recent profile in the New York Times (Suzy Hansen: A finance minister fit for a Greek tragedy, 20 May 2015), Varoufakis maintains that he is the victim of a smear campaign by journalists. Most interestingly, he states that he taped the April Eurogroup meeting. The NYT quote is seen below in bold italic:

According to Varoufakis, the tweet — he has more than 400,000 Twitter followers — was directed not at his fellow finance ministers, but at journalists. “The media went into a frenzy of obfuscations and lies, which I am sure they are not entirely responsible for,” he said. “It seems as if there were leaks from within that were disconnected from the reality of what happened. All these reports that I was abused, that I was called names, that I was called a time-waster and all that: Let me say that I deny this with every fiber of my body.” (He says he taped the meeting but cannot release the tape because of confidentiality rules.)

Today, Skai News reports that Varoufakis denies having recorded the Eurogroup meeting. The source is here: Βαρουφάκης: Επιστημονική φαντασία η παράταση, παραμύθια η ηχογράφηση, 21 May 2015. I reproduce this here in Greece with a free translation into English:

Ερωτηθείς για το πολύκροτο δημοσίευμα των New York Times που τον θέλει να έχει ηχογραφήσει τη συνεδρίαση του Eurogroup στη Ρίγα, ο υπουργός Οικονομικών απάντησε: «παραμύθια, παραμύθια, παραμύθια».

Asked about the sensational publication in the New York Times which claims that he recorded the Eurogroup meeting in Riga, the Finance Minister replied: "Fairy tales, fairy tales, fairy tales."

It is difficult to understand whether he is telling the truth (so far Suzy Hansen has not issued a clarification or retraction). This is one of a by now very large number of reversals, denials, miscommunications or gaffes this same Minister has made since SYRIZA’s election on January 25th.

This same Minister, on January 31st, was boldly promising no new loans, no loan conditionality, no loan monitoring team. It is the same Minister who has been “negotiating” for 4 months now precisely for new loans, with loan conditionality and a monitoring team which has been rebranded the “Brussels Group” instead of the “Troika”.

The next Eurogroup meeting promises to be even more interesting that what is strictly necessary.

(c) Philip Ammerman, 2015 

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