Friday, July 31, 2015

More on the frivolous accusations against Yanis Varoufakis

I'd much rather talk about Yanis Varoufakis and Angela Merkel than about Donald Trump. So I will.

In The Defeat of Europe (07/30/2015) at his blog and in Le Monde Diplomatique (dated 08/02/2015), Mr. V tells the story of the Greek negotiations this year. It's interesting to see that he thinks there is a real difference in approach between Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble: "Even worse, we had to deal with our creditors ‘vertical disintegration’, as the bosses of the IMF and the Commission had a different agenda to their minions or as the German and Austrian finance ministers had an agenda totally at odds to that of their Chancellors."

Presumably, this means he thinks Merkel prefers to keep Greece in the eurozone, while Schäuble wants to kick them out.

The title echoes this line in the article, "Greece capitulated but it is Europe that was defeated."

The Greek opposition attempt to accuse Varoufakis of high treason for doing his job as Finance Minister and doing contingency planning for a Grexit isn't looking so good. For the opposition. The accusation is hot air, as explained by Giorgos Christides in Strafanzeigen gegen griechischen Ex-Finanzminister: Varoufakis kann ganz cool bleiben Spiegel Online 30.07.2015.

Mohamed A. El-Erian writes In Defense of Varoufakis Project Syndicate 07/29/2015:

It ... would have been irresponsible for Varoufakis not to work behind closed doors on a Plan B. After all, Greece’s eurozone destiny largely was – and remains – in the hands of others (particularly Germany, the ECB, and the IMF). And it is yet to be established whether Varoufakis broke any laws in the way he and his colleagues worked on their contingency plan.

When push came to shove, Varoufakis faced the difficult choice of going along with more of the same, despite knowing that it would fail, or trying to pivot to a new approach. He bravely opted for the latter. While his brash style undermined outcomes, it would be a real tragedy to lose sight of his arguments (which have been made by many others as well).

If Greece is to have any realistic chance of long-term economic recovery and meeting its citizens’ legitimate aspirations, policymakers must recast the country’s austerity program, couple pro-growth reforms with greater social justice, and secure additional debt relief. And if Greece is to remain in the eurozone (still a big if, even after the latest agreement), it must not only earn its peers’ respect; it must be treated with greater respect by them as well.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is also having none of the frivolous treason accusations against his former Finance Minister (Greek PM Tsipras defends Varoufakis over 'Grexit' row BBC News 07/31/2015)

Mr Tsipras said on Friday that he had ordered the plan, adding it would have been "irresponsible" not to do so.

"Of course I issued personal instructions to the finance minister to create a team that would work on a plan of defence in the event of a national emergency," Mr Tsipras told parliament, according to AP.

"It would have been politically naive ... not to do so. Does that mean... that I was seeking an emergency?" he asked. [my emphasis]
Keep Talking Greece reports it this way (PM Tsipras: I ordered Varoufakis to prepare a contingency plan 07/31/2015):

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave full coverage to former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and said that he ordered the ex FinMin to work out an emergency contingency plan but not a Grexit plan.

Speaking to the Greek Parliament after a question posed by PASOK leader Fofi Gennimatas, Tsipras said among others:

“Of course I instructed the Minister of Finance to set up a team to prepare a defense plan in case of emergency” and stressed that “the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition had no plans to exit the Eurozone but a crisis management plan.” ...

In the Parliament, the Prime Minister defended Varoufakis even though he criticized some of his policies.

“Instead of looking for responsibilities about the Grexit, you would better contact those who cultivated the Grexit. Haven’t you heard anything about the Plan B of Brussels with 1,000 pages?” Tsipras asked the opposition adding, “For the first time we heard that the European Commission was preparing such a plan in 2012. This plan has been continuously updated. The partners and lenders had a ready Grexit plan. Shouldn’t we asa government design our defenses? We had an obligation to the citizens to be prepare against such a possibility.”

Tsiporas [sic] vehemently denied that the government was preparing a Grexit Plan.

“You accuse us that we had a secret plan for the country’s exit from the eurozone. so, why didn’t we implement it? If our goal was to get the country out of the euro, why didn’t we do it when the referendum result was 62%?”

Tsipras defended Varoufakis plan to get access to taxpayers’ registration numbers saying that “this data base was useful for the euro” and said that Varoufakis made mistakes as Finance Minister. [my emphasis]
Varoufakis is also under fire for, uh, wearing an orange shirt? (Renee Malezou, Alexis Tsipras on Yanis Varoufakis: You can question his taste in shirts, but not his honesty The Independent 07/31/2015; Stefan Kuzmany, Das Hemd: Varoufarben? Rosafakis? Spiegel Online 31.07.2015)

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