Varoufakis fuels more controversy in interviews

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Wednesday fuelled further controversy by reiterating that he would favor paying pensions and salaries over the country’s creditors, while in an interview with the New York Times magazine he revealed that he had taped informal talks with his eurozone peers in Riga last month.

In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4, Varoufakis said Greece’s domestic commitments remained a priority. “If we can, on June 5, repay the IMF and pay pensions and salaries as well as the other obligations we have to our internal creditors, we shall,” Varoufakis said, referring to a 300-million-euro repayment due to the IMF in the first week of June. “If not, we will have to prioritize pensioners and public sector workers.”

The minister confirmed that one of the reforms Athens is considering in a bid to raise much-needed revenue is a tax on banking transactions, though he noted that talks on the levy were at an early stage.

Meanwhile in another interview, with the NYT magazine, Varoufakis was quoted as saying that he had taped a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Riga last month but could not release the recordings due to confidentiality rules. In a statement released later in the day, Varoufakis did not refute the report, simply noting: “My respect for the confidentiality of my conversations with my partners, with my peers, with the institutions, is exemplary and I believe it has been acknowledged and understood by everyone.”

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