Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis insisted in a German newspaper interview Wednesday that he is still in charge of Greece’s team handling crucial talks with creditors, despite a recent shake-up.
“Yes, Im in charge. Im still responsible for the talks with the Eurogroup,” Varoufakis told the weekly Die Zeit in an interview to be published on Thursday.
“I’m supported by various government members, not least by good friend Euclid Tsakalotos. The fact that some media are portraying as if he is replacing me in the talks is just another proof of how low journalistic standards have sunk,” he said.
On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced a shake-up of the team after relations between his embattled finance minister and the EU hit a new low.
A government statement said a “political negotiation team” would be formed under junior foreign minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a 55-year-old Dutch-born economics professor, to assist the troubled talks after months of fruitless discussions on Athens’ new loan deal.
Some saw the move as an attempt to sideline Varoufakis, whose negotiating style has infuriated Brussels. But Athens insisted that it would continue to support the maverick economics professor against “manipulated” media attacks.
Tsipras has said “that Im an important part of the government and that I continue to play an important role for him personally,” Varoufakis insisted.
He had a group of ministers and other key government members permanently at his side.
“Weve given this working group a name. I have the chair in this group. It comes under my responsibility. I make the decisions,” he said.
Athens’ move on Monday came after a stormy Eurogroup meeting in Riga last week where Varoufakis was reportedly “isolated” by his fellow eurozone finance ministers.