Monday, April 27, 2015

Greece Just Clipped Varoufakis’s Wings

by Nikos Chrysoloras & Marcus Bensasson


April 27, 2015

Greece reshuffled its bailout-negotiating team, reining in Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, after three months of talks with creditors failed to unlock aid and a meeting with his euro-area counterparts ended in acrimony.

The coordination of the day-to-day efforts to strike a deal with creditors was handed to Deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a Greek government official said in an e-mail to reporters Monday. Varoufakis will supervise the political negotiations with euro-area member states and the International Monetary Fund. No change was announced to Greece’s representation in euro-area finance ministers’ meetings, which Varoufakis attends.

A Eurogroup meeting in Riga, Latvia on Friday descended into name-calling as the currency bloc’s finance ministers hurled abuse at their Greek colleague, accusing him of being a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur. Still, the 54-year-old academic-turned-politician in the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras remains popular at home, with 55 percent of respondents in an Alco survey published in Proto Thema newspaper Sunday expressing a positive view about him.

“This move squares the circle, because it doesn’t look like Tsipras is surrendering by firing Varoufakis, but it to some extent has the same result,” said Michael Michaelides, a strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London. “It doesn’t change the issues, but given the interpersonal nature of the Eurogroup, and since the finance ministers still remain in charge, this is significant.”


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