Greece's Varoufakis says 'respects' secrecy after taping claim
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was forced to say he respected the confidentiality of debt talks with his European counterparts after a news report claimed he recorded an April meeting.
A lengthy New York Times profile of the outspoken minister published online May 20 said: "He (Varoufakis) says he taped the meeting but cannot release the tape because of confidentiality rules."
Varoufakis stopped short of denying he recorded the stormy meeting in Latvia with European finance ministers on Greece's debt crisis.
"My respect for the confidentiality of my discussions with my partners, with my counterparts, with institutions, is exemplary and I think that everyone has seen and understood that," he said in a statement.
Varoufakis's alleged admission about the recording came during an interview in which he refuted reports he was mistreated or insulted by his counterparts at the Riga talks.
After the meeting Varoufakis had quoted former American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the architect of the US recovery from the Great Depression.
"FDR, 1936: 'They are unanimous in their hate for me; and I welcome their hatred'," he tweeted.
But Varoufakis told the New York Times: "All these reports that I was abused, that I was called names, that I was called a time-waster and all that: Let me say that I deny this with every fiber of my body."
He was unable to prove his version of events because he could not, for confidentiality reasons, share the recording he made, the paper said.
Athens, which is locked in negotiations with the IMF and EU on a 7.2-billion-euro ($8.2 billion) bailout payment, is fast running out of money.
In the interview Varoufakis did not waver from the confrontational stance for which he has become known in the debts talks.
"I am not going to pay the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and not pay pensions in the next few weeks.
So I said to them: 'Decide. Do you want this to be a proper bargaining round, or do you want this to be a post-mortem?'", the New York Times reported.
Greece owes around 1.5 billion euros to the IMF in June, and more than six billion euros are due to the European Central Bank in July and August.
Failing to pay the IMF would be the first step toward a default and a presumably messy exit from the eurozone.