Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’ discreet new finance minister
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoGreece’s new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos is as discreet and tight-lipped as his predecessor Yanis Varoufakis was flamboyant and confrontational.
Tsakalotos, a 55-year-old leftist economist who had been a pointman in Greece’s bailout talks, was named as Varoufakis’ replacement hours after his resignation on July 6.
He is far less likely to irritate Athens’ exasperated creditors.
The Dutch-born, Oxford-educated economics professor and junior foreign minister had already taken over as the main negotiator in the bailout talks in April after it became clear Varoufakis was badly ruffling feathers and creating bad blood.
“It was a necessary step,” a European source told AFP, explaining how relieved European officials were to see Tsakalotos at the table.
“The climate with Varoufakis was so poisoned that it was impossible to move forward,” said an Athens-based economist, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Tsakalotos has a more low-key profile. At this stage it will be a considerable improvement.”
Nonetheless, Tsakalotos is not seen as a pushover by any means. He shares some points of view with Varoufakis, even if he expressed them less virulently.
Greece’s creditors “did not appear prepared to compromise” and seemed bent on imposing “unrealistic” demands, Tsakalotos told the French newspaper Liberation last month in a rare interview.
“Our interlocutors each time insist on pension cuts. It’s unrealistic (to ask for that) in a country where pensions have been considerably reduced over the past five years, and where two in three pensioners live under the poverty line,” he said.
Tsakalotos has insisted that the Syriza government is “fundamentally pro-Europe.”
“We want an agreement for a viable economic program inside the euro,” he said.