The truth about Riga

It was the 24th of April. The Eurogroup meeting taking place that day in Latvia was of great importance to Greece. It was the last Eurogroup meeting prior to the deadline (30th April) that we had collectively decided upon (back in the 20th February Eurogroup meeting) for an agreement on the set of reforms that Greece would implement so as to unlock, in a timely fashion, the deadlock with our creditors.

During that Eurogroup meeting, which ended in disagreement, the media began to report ‘leaks’ from the room presenting to the world a preposterously false view of what was being said within. Respected journalists and venerable news media reported lies and innuendos concerning both what my colleagues allegedly said to me and also my alleged responses and my presentation of the Greek position.

The days and weeks that followed were dominated by these false stories which almost everyone (despite my steady, low-key, denials) assumed to be accurate reports. The public, under that wall of disinformation, became convinced that, during the 24th April Riga Eurogroup meeting, my fellow ministers called me insulting names (“time waster”, “gambler”, “amateur” etc. were some of the reported insults), that I lost my temper, and that, as a result, my Prime Minister later “sidelined” me from the negotiations. (It was even reported that I would not be attending the following Eurogroup meeting, or that I would be ‘supervised’ by some other ministerial colleague.)

Of course none of the above was even remotely true.

  • My fellow ministers never, ever addressed me in anything other than collegial, polite, respectful terms.
  • I did not lose my temper during that meeting, or at any other point.
  • I continue to negotiate with my fellow ministers of finance, leading the Greek side at the Eurogroup.

Then came a New York Times Magazine story which raised the possibility of a recording of that Eurogroup meeting. All of a sudden, the journalists and news media that propagated the lies and the innuendos about the 24th April Eurogroup meeting changed tack. Without a whiff of an apology for the torrent of untruths they had peddled against me for weeks, they now began to depict me as a ‘spoof’ who had “betrayed” the confidentiality of the Eurogroup.

This morning I went on the record on the Andrew Marr television show (BBC1) on this issue. I am taking this opportunity to commit the truth in writing also here – on my trusted blog. So here it goes:

As I told Andrew Marr, in the absence of minutes, I often record my interventions and responses on my mobile phone, especially when I adlib them. The purpose is, naturally, so as to be able to recount my exact phrases and, accordingly, to brief my Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament etc. on precisely what I said. I did the same in the Riga Eurogroup meeting and, afterwards, back in Athens, used that recording to work on my brief to my colleagues.

In the following days and weeks, I stood firm against the torrent of lies that flowed for weeks like an out of control sewer. I desisted all provocation and refused to divulge anything of what was said in the meeting – not even to put out there the text of my own speeches (let alone the recording).

To my detractors I have this to say: You have not had any leaks from me during or after any of my meetings. Indeed, no one has respected the confidentiality of those meetings more than I – even during the days and weeks I was being provoked by the news media’s false, personal attacks regarding those meetings.

To fellow Europeans I add this: Perhaps it is time we became a little more sceptical about the journalism we rely upon as citizens. And perhaps we should query European institutions in which decisions of monumental importance are made, on behalf of Europe’s citizenry, but in which minutes are neither taken nor published.

Secrecy and a gullible press do not augur well for Europe’s democracy.

A New Deal for Greece – a Project Syndicate Op-Ed

Photo of Yanis VaroufakisFor the Project Syndicate page click here.

ATHENS – Three months of negotiations between the Greek government and our European and international partners have brought about much convergence on the steps needed to overcome years of economic crisis and to bring about sustained recovery in Greece. But they have not yet produced a deal. Why? What steps are needed to produce a viable, mutually agreed reform agenda? Continue reading

Talking to my daughter about the economy – Preface to the German edition

talking to my daughter about the economyLast summer (an aeon it seems before my recent sojourn into politics&government) I spent ten days writing a short book in Greek on economics. The idea was to write it as if it were addressed to my young daughter, so as to keep complex ideas simple and to test my capacity to home in on what matters while discarding unnecessary complication. Now, a German edition of that book is about to be published and I was asked to author a preface for my German readers. Here is the result:
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Varoufakis and Tsakalotos on the Eurozone institutions and bank bailouts – INET-OECD April 9th 2015

Two SYRIZA ministers for the price of one! Here you can find audio of our talks at the INET-OECD 9th April conference on the subject of ‘Eurozone institutions during the bank bailout negotiations’.

Yanis Varoufakis’ talk below

Euclid Tsakalotos talk below

Presenting an agenda for Europe at AMBROSETTI (Lake Como, 14th March 2015)


Dear All, Ministerial duties have impeded my blogging of late. I am now breaking the silence since I have just given a talk that combines my previous work with my current endeavours. Here is the text of the talk I gave this morning at the Ambrosetti Conference on the theme of ‘An Agenda for Europe’. Long time readers will recognise the main theme – evidence of a certain continuity… Continue reading

A question of respect (or lack thereof)… – the Greek veto over Russia that never was

On the first day in our ministries, the power of the media to distort hit me again. The world’s press was full of reports on how the SYRIZA government’s first foreign policy ‘move’ was to veto fresh sanctions on Russia. Now, I am not qualified to speak on foreign affairs but, nonetheless, I must share this with you at a personal level. Our Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, briefed us that on his first day at the job he heard in the news bulletins that the EU had approved new sanctions on Russia unanimously. The problem was that he, and the new Greek government, were never asked! So, clearly, the issue was not whether our new government agrees or not with fresh sanctions on Russia. The issue is whether our view can be taken for granted without even being told of what it is! From my perspective, even though (let me state it again) I am certainly not qualified to speak on foreign affairs, this is all about a question of respect for our national sovereignty. Could journalists the world over try to draw this important distinction between protesting our being neglected from protesting the sanctions themselves? Or is this too complicated?

Finance Ministry slows blogging down but ends it not

The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived. My plan is to defy such advice. To continue blogging here even though it is normally considered irresponsible for a Finance Minister to indulge in such crass forms of communication. Naturally, my blog posts will become more infrequent and shorter. But I do hope they compensate with juicier views, comments and insights.

For hope to be revived we must all strive to change the ways of a dismal past. Maintaining an open line with the outside world may be a small step in that direction.

So, keep watching this space!

Heard the news? Greece’s finance minister is no extremist – THE TELEGRAPH

Yanis Varoufakis: Greece’s future finance minister is no extremist

The man touted as frontunner to be Syriza’s finance minister is not the socialist firebrand which one might expect

Syriza, a hard left party, that outrightly rejects EU-imposed austerity, has given Greek politics its greatest electoral shake-up in at least 40 years.

You might expect the frontrunner for the role of finance minister to be a radical zealot, who could throw Greece into the fire.

Of Loss and Retrieval – latest and last article in WdW Review

Photo of an unknown boy, which we can imagine to have been Kostas, who went missing in 1992 during the evacuation of ethnic Greek refugees from Smyrna.<br /><br /><br />
Image courtesy of Red Cross Archive, Greece.Photo of an unknown boy, which we can imagine to have been Kostas, who went missing in 1992 during the evacuation of ethnic Greek refugees from Smyrna. Image courtesy of Red Cross Archive, Greece.

Yesterday Greek democracy raged against the dying of the light. Europe and the World should join us

Today, the people of Greece gave a vote of confidence to hope. They used the ballot box, in this splendid celebration of democracy, to put an end to a self-reinforcing crisis that produces indignity in Greece and feeds Europe’s darkest forces.

The people of Greece today sent a message of solidarity to the North, to the South, to the East and to the West of our continent. The simple message is that the time for crisis-denial, retribution and finger-pointing is over. That the time for the reinvigoration of the ideals of freedom, rationality, democratic process and justice has come in the continent that invented them.

Greek democracy today chose to stop going gently into the night.

Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light.

Fresh from receiving our democratic mandate, we call upon the people of Europe and, indeed, the world over, to join us in a realm of shared, sustainable prosperity.

On the consequences of Mr Draghi’s impending QE announcement – in THE ECONOMIST

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«La Grèce peut forcer l’Europe à changer» – La Tribune

INTERVIEWYannis Varoufakis Syriza's candidate for the elections of January 25 in Greece.
Yanis Varoufakis is a candidate for Syriza to the 25 January elections in Greece. (Credit: Reuters)
Interview by Romaric Godin, Athens  | 01/20/2015, 1:16 p.m. – 2597 words
Yanis Varoufakis, economist and author of “Minotaur Planetary” is a candidate for the party of the radical left Syriza in the elections of January 25. He explains his commitment and would have meaning for Europe led a victory of party
by Alexis Tsipras.

 

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