Maybe it was his idea of a Christmas present to his European friends. Greece’s ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis came out swinging at practically everyone and everything Eurogroup-related in a Dutch newspaper interview on Christmas Eve, calling the Eurogroup a place fit only for psychopaths.
In the interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, Varoufakis took swing after swing against former colleagues he sat at negotiations tables with during the tough meetings last summer, before he resigned from his position.
He called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a puppet master and bashed Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem as an ineffectual tool of the Germans.
“He’s (German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble) the puppet master who pulls all the strings. All the other ministers are marionettes. Schäuble is the grandmaster of the Eurogroup. He decides who becomes the president, he determines the agenda, he controls everything.”
Varoufakis was especially hard on Dijsselbloem.
“[He] has no real power. Dijsselbloem has no authority; he is a soldier, a puppet … He can’t make any decisions without calling Schäuble. Dijsselbloem is a cog in a machine that he doesn’t understand himself,” he said later in the interview.
“There was absolutely no reason for me to speak with Jeroen because he was neither willing nor able to have a real discussion, let alone interested.”
On the Eurogroup as an institution, it’s a place for lunatics, Varoufakis said.
“Anyone who speaks about blissful moments in the Eurogroup should be locked up immediately for being a dangerous lunatic,” he said.
“The Eurogroup is a very unpleasant place, including for Schäuble, Dijsselbloem and the ECB president Draghi. Centers of power are stressful by definition, with big egos and continuous conflict.”
“If you’re a psychopath and you thrive on conflict, then the Eurogroup is the place to be.”
Asked whether it was a place for power-hungry politicians, he said: “Ultimately, almost no one has any power … [Individuals] power is undermined by opposing power, everyone cancels each other out. I’ve seen a lot of frustration in the Eurogroup.”
His strongest regret, Varoufakis said, is “that I trusted in the unity of the Greek government, or to be more precise: the unity within the war cabinet of seven people, including Prime Minister Tsipras and me.”
“We were together day and night during that time. I slept the way you sleep in the trenches in a real war: a few hours here and there, with all your senses on edge.”
“I trusted blindly in Tsipras, wrongly.”
“Tsipras surrendered to the demands of the Eurogroup – without consulting me,” he said.
The Greek ex-minister blames eurozone leaders for driving a wedge between him and the prime minister.
“They said to Tsipras: If you want a deal, you have to get rid of Yanis … The Eurogroup was looking for a political way to eliminate me: It was a conspiracy. In [the bloc’s meeting in] Riga, they succeeded in playing me and Tsipras against each other.”