The outspoken Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis was reportedly relieved of his responsibility of chief negotiator of Greece with the eurozone over the bailout program. Following the Riga meeting on April 24, which was supposed to lead to a deal on Greek reforms, but did not, Varoufakis was asked by his prime minister Alexis Tsipras to no longer lead the talks. The task will now be carried out by Mr Varoufakis´s number two at the finance ministry, Euklidis Tsakalotos. Mr Varoufakis is reportedly no longer a trusted partner for the eurozone finance ministers due to his outspoken nature and conflict-seeking nature. Mr Tsakalotos is very different in this manner – an Oxford-educated economist with much calmer personality. But the Greek media reported that his views are very similar to Mr Varoufakis´s. He even stated that it has been the tactics of the Greek negotiators to seek conflict with the eurozone all along – it allegedly shows Greek resolve.
Mr Tsakalotos will have a difficult task to persuade his eurozone colleagues to approve Greek reforms list, in order for the last outstanding tranche of the Greek bailout to be unlocked. The eurozone asks for difficult reforms, such as pensions reduction or VAT increase, both of which Mr Tsipras´s government refuses. But possible compromise may be ahead – under Mr Tsakalotos the Greeks may accept reduction of some unreasonably high pensions and VAT increase on some luxury goods and services. The next deadline for the deal seems to be May 11, at the next Eurogroup meeting. And this time, it truly seems as the last chance meeting – without the bailout money, Greece will likely run out of cash mid-May.
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20th February 2019
25th January 2019