The Slatest

Greek Government Reportedly Extending Bank Closures; Flamboyant Finance Minister Resigns

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives on his motorcycle for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Athens on June 20, 2015.


Reuters was reporting on Monday that Greek authorites will extend the bank closures, which were set to be lifted Tuesday, across the country. The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has not yet commented on the possibility that banks will not reopen as promised.

As Tsipras seeks to restart negotiations with the country’s creditors following Sunday’s national referendum rejecting European bailout terms, he has made at least one concession that seems aimed at appeasing his critics in the wider European community: Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, known for his unflinching opposition to the bailout’s austerity measures, announced his resignation Monday.

Varoufakis described his departure in a post on his personal blog titled “Minister No More!”

Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted “partners,” for my “absence” from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.

I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.

And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.

We of the Left know how to act collectively with no care for the privileges of office. I shall support fully Prime Minister Tsipras, the new Minister of Finance, and our government.

The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.

Varoufakis, an economist who spent decades in academia before being elected to the Greek parliament last January, became known during his short tenure not only for the far-left views he expressed freely in the press and on his active Twitter feed, but also for the aversion to neckties and tucked-in shirts that left him looking decidedly more casual than the world leaders he was photographed with. His balding head and leather jacket led the host of one German political show to compare him to Bruce Willis.

Varoufakis is expected to be replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, who is seen as one of the more moderate members of Tsipras’s Syriza party but is evidently not without controversy himself:

The Guardian noted the ill effects of the referendum result as world financial markets opened, with investors across Asia feeling a jolt.

Share prices were sent tumbling across the Asia-Pacific on Monday after Greece’s resounding no vote in the weekend’s bailout referendum raised fears it could be forced to exit the eurozone.

While significant losses had not descended into regional turmoil as Asian markets prepared to close, analysts warned of more trouble ahead depending on the outcome of crisis meetings of European leaders later on Monday and on Tuesday.

European markets had also showed declines Monday, with Germany’s DAX falling 1.5% and the French CAC down nearly two percent by midday.

Prime Minister Tsipras reportedly called Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin to discuss “cooperation” between their countries following the No vote but not, the Kremlin insists, to ask for a Russian rescue package. With French President Francois Hollande meeting Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and an urgent summit set for Tuesday, it appears Greece’s outgoing finance minister is right that the country is “just beginning” to square the result of Sunday’s No vote with the rest of the world.