Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has denounced the country’s new bailout deal as part of the “politics of humiliation”, and criticised European leaders for pushing a “new Versailles treaty” on the continent.
The former University of Sydney lecturer turned high-flying anti-austerity campaigner gave the comments in an extensive interview on Radio National late last night, as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made his way back to the financially besieged nation to sell the new deal.
Varoufakis, who was speaking for the first time since handing his resignation to Tsipras earlier this month, compared the deal being pushed on Greece to the ill-fated post First World War treaty that crippled Germany, paving the way for a second war two decades later.
“This is indeed the politics of humiliation,” he told Phillip Adams.
“The Troika [the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank]have made sure that they would make [Tsipras] eat every single word of criticism of the Troika over the last few years, not just these… six months during which we’ve been in government, but of the five years prior to that.”
With Greece facing a potentially devastating departure from the Eurozone and the shared European currency, the Prime Minister agreed to a tough new deal including a range of austerity measures his Syriza party had ridden to power opposing.
Accepting the deal will leaves Tsipras on a difficult domestic footing after the Greek public overwhelming rejected a more lenient bailout deal at a July 5 referendum
“This has nothing to do with economics Phil,” Varoufakis told the ABC presenter.
“It’s got nothing to do with putting Greece back on the rails towards recovery. This is a new Versailles treaty which is haunting Europe again – and the Prime Minister knows it. The Prime Minister knows he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.”
In characteristically forthright style, Varoufakis compared the negotiating tactics of Eurozone leaders to the CIA practice of torture by waterboarding, and the 1967 coup d’état which saw a right wing military junta seize control of the Greek state for seven years.
“You’ve been around long enough to remember the 1967 coup d’état,” he said to Adams. “You will recall the choice of weapon used in order to bring down democracy then was the tanks, but this time it was the banks.”
The ‘rock star’ former minister also opened up about his decision to step down as Finance Minister, insisting the move was more of a jump than a push, after Prime Minister Tsipras indicated he would not use the ‘no’ vote at the referendum as a weapon against European creditors demanding further austerity.
“On the night of the referendum, Phillip, I entered the Prime Ministerial office elated. Pushed by the beautiful winds of the public’s enthusiasm for the victory of Greek democracy during that referendum.”
He made his position clear to the Prime Minister.
“If you want to use the buzz of democracy outside the gates of this splendid building you can count on me. But if on the other hand you feel you cannot manage, you can not handle this majestic ‘no’ to a rather irrational proposition from our European partners then I’m gong to simply steal into the night.”
“In essence, I’m actually very much enjoying being a backbencher at the moment because I have a lot more room for manoeuvre and speaking the truth, without having to phrase the truth in diplomatic terms – not that I did much of that – but now I don’t even have to try.”
As Varoufakis and Adams discussed the historical comparisons between the ongoing crisis and past ruptures on the continent, the Greek MP noted that when he sits in his nation’s parliament he is confronted by 10 neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members on the other side of the aisle.
He said the group’s influence would grow if they were able to inherit the “anti-austerity drive” from Syriza.
“I do believe what I said to you before, that the project of European democracy, of a united European democratic union, has just suffered a major, major catastrophe,” he said.
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