Yanis Varoufakis was president of a black student union in the 1980s

Minister of Finance of Greece Yanis VaroufakisREUTERS/Ints KalninsMinister of Finance of Greece Yanis Varoufakis attends Eurogroup tour-de-table during informal meeting of Ministers for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) in Riga, Latvia, April 24, 2015.

Greece’s outgoing “rock star” Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was president of the Black Student Union at Essex University while doing his PhD there in the 1980s, according to The Telegraph.

The Telegraph spoke to Varoufakis’ PhD supervisor Professor Monojit Chatterji, who told them:

He was always up for doing the unusual and the unexpected. For example, he put himself forward in the 1980s as president of the Black Student Union.

People looked at him – he’s as white as driven snow – and said what the hell is this? But he said, ‘black’ is a political term, for anyone who has been discriminated against or a potential subject of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, and that’s me.

So he was elected, and he was very proud of that. The reason they elected him is because he would take their case with huge vigour and forcefulness in much the same way as he has now.

Professor Chatterji also admits that Varoufakis “doesn’t do diplomacy,” which he says may have been a factor in his exit from the position of finance minister.

Varoufakis rubbed many of the Eurogroup negotiators the wrong way and was replaced as Greece’s lead negotiator by Euclid Tsakalotos in April, a move many saw as an attempt to sideline Varoufakis.

Greek media are reporting that Tsakalotos will be confirmed as Varoufakis’ replacement as finance minister shortly.

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