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Who is Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis?

brussels bureau

Who is Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis?


Thrust from a quieter life in academia to the centre stage in the latest episode of the eurozone crisis.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis led his country’s negotiations in seeking an extension to its international bailout.

The 53-year-old economist has since become something of a an international celebrity for his witty turn of phrase, charisma and unconventional appearance.

And it was Varoufakis picked up the highest number of votes of any Syriza candidate in Greece’s general election.

But what worked with Greek voters didn’t go down well with his Eurogroup counterparts.

“His laid-back style was something of a novelty. It was surprising. But beyond that, Mr Varoufakis had a speech, a message to bring,” said Europolitics editor Christoph Garach. “He was still in the midst of his victory honeymoon and the Eurogroup told him that things don’t work like that here.”

The new Greek finance minister clashed with his opposite number from Germany: Wolfgang Schauble.

Schauble, a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, refused to back down on Berlin’s insistence that Greece must stick to the austerity plan.

“We are talking about two men from two different worlds. One is an established member of the EU circuit for several years now; the other is a newcomer,” said Garach.

“Syriza’s Greek win was three years ago and it will take time for him to adjust. He has to make some effort to be less direct and more diplomatic.”

The Greek extension runs out in four months time.

It will likely see Varoufakis thrust back into the spotlight once more with a fresh round of negotiations.

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