BUSINESS

Varoufakis said to be called gambler, time-waster in meeting

By Ian Wishart and Jeff Black

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was heavily criticized by his euro-area colleagues amid mounting frustration at his refusal to deliver measures to fix his country’s economy and release financial aid, according to three people familiar with the talks.

Euro-area finance chiefs said Varoufakis’s handling of the talks was irresponsible and accused him of being a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur, one of the people said. Another said the Greek complained of the hostile atmosphere in the meeting, as he was criticized from all sides. A Greek official in Riga, Latvia, for the meeting wasn’t able to comment on the talks when reached by phone.

Going into the talks, the 19-nation bloc’s finance ministers voiced their frustration over Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s attempt to bypass their veto on financial aid with an appeal to Angela Merkel.

“I demand very urgently that we get results on the table,” Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said before sitting down for talks. “If you follow the media of the past days you hear time and again that ‘Tsipras says’ and ‘Tsipras thinks’, so apparently this has been moved to leaders’ level.”

With Greece running out of money and stalling over commitments to reform, euro-zone finance chiefs said the country’s authorities still haven’t shown sufficient progress on plans to revamp the economy to justify a loan payout.

Tsipras sought to circumvent the finance ministers’ authority less than 24 hours earlier, pleading his case with the German Chancellor and French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of a summit on immigration in Brussels. Under euro- area procedures, it’s the finance ministers who have to sign off on any aid disbursement and Merkel said last month she’s not prepared to override those controls.

[Bloomberg]

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