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Tuesday 7th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Ex-finance minister will ‘wear creditors’ loathing with pride’

VENGEFUL eurogroup ministers forced Greece’s finance minister to resign yesterday after voters said No to austerity and yes to democracy.

In a blog yesterday Yanis Varoufakis said that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had come under pressure from the group of eurozone foreign ministers to ditch him in favour of a more “moderate” and “sensible” replacement.

Voters defied pollsters’ predictions of a close call on Sunday to vote 61 per cent “Oxi” (No) to the latest EU troika demands for swingeing austerity cuts in return for a banking bailout. Thousands gathered in the streets to celebrate the result.

Mr Varoufakis, who had threatened to resign in the event of a Yes vote, hailed the plebiscite as “a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.”

But he said: “Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners,’ for my … ‘absence’ from its meetings. An idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.”

The former minister vowed to continue to help his government resist EU-imposed austerity, saying: “I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.

“And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.” Skai TV in Greece reported yesterday afternoon that Euclid Tsakalotos had been appointed as Mr Varoufakis’s successor.

Standard Chartered bank policy expert Demetrios Efstathiou said Mr Tsakalotos “is one of the most sensible/moderate figures in Syriza and his appointment, if confirmed, would increase the chances for a sensible negotiation and a positive outcome.”

After ousting Mr Tsipras’s top negotiator, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the onus was now on Greece to bring new proposals.

Eurogroup president and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who has led the demands for further economy-crippling cuts, said Sunday’s result was “very regrettable for the future of Greece.”

“For recovery of the Greek economy, difficult measures and reforms are inevitable,” he said. “We will now wait for the initiatives of the Greek authorities.”