Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has sensationally resigned, according to a statement posted to his official website, in the aftermath of the weekend’s referendum which overwhelmingly endorsed his government’s rejection of bailout terms set by Greece’s creditors.
Greek officials will hold a crisis summit with European leaders on Tuesday to discuss a way forward after the referendum. Varoufakis, in a somewhat cryptic message, said it had been made clear to him that some “Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners'” would prefer it if he wasn’t involved.
He believed that his absence from the talks was something his boss, prime minister Alexis Tsipras, found “potentially helpful”.
“For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” Varoufakis said. “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.”
Varoufakis said he would “wear the creditors’ loathing with pride”.
A decision on the continuation of emergency liquidity funding for Greece’s banks, which are running low on cash and limiting ATM withdrawals, is due today. This will be followed by Tuesday’s summit where Greece will seek a debt restructure with the so-called “troika” of creditors: the European Union, the IMF, and the European Central Bank.
As finance minister Varoufakis, a former economics professor who once taught at Sydney University, has been front and centre in the stand-off between Greece and its creditors since the left-leaning Syriza coalition came to power in January on a platform of opposition to enforced fiscal reforms sought Eurogroup members.
At the weekend, Varoufakis had pledged to resign if the referendum was defeated.
Soon after the result, a resounding endorsement of the Syriza campaign, he welcomed the result as a “majestic, big YES to a democratic Europe”.
He resigned just hours after that. How quickly things change.
Here’s the full statement from Varoufakis on his blog:
Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms.
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.
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.
We of the Left know how to act collectively with no care for the privileges of office. I shall support fully Prime Minister Tsipras, the new Minister of Finance, and our government.
The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.
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