Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos chose to skip last week’s Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, where serious criticism was expressed against Greek government decisions. The minister’s explanation for staying in Athens was that Greece would not be on the agenda of the eurozone finance ministers’ talks, which he knew was not the case.
After Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced his handouts on May 7, the first worrying emails from the creditors’ mission chiefs in Athens started reaching Eurogroup head Mario Centeno. The Portuguese minister decided it was right to hold a brief discussion on the issue in last Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting, even though Greece was originally not on the agenda, in order to grant the Greek minister the opportunity to explain the logic of those measures.
Tsakalotos’ office was informed about that a few days before the meeting, as is regularly the case when an issue appears on the agenda at the last minute, so as not to take the minister concerned by surprise. Tsakalotos’ reaction was immediate, as he called the representative of a European institution and expressed in strong terms his opposition to Greece appearing on the agenda at that late date. However, Centeno had it his way.
That was when Tsakalotos opted not to go to Brussels and sent his alternate, Giorgos Houliarakis, instead, who had to explain Athens’ position even though he did not agree with the measures.