Dijsselbloem: With Tsipras, Tsakalotos 'almost everything has been easier'

Friday, 12 January 2018 18:51
UPD:18:58
EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

Outgoing Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem's interview to the "Financial Times" on Friday and his references to the shambolic negotiations with the Tsipras government in the first half of 2016, as well as his tenuous relations with Yanis Varoufakis, then Greece's finance minister, generated immediate reverberations in Athens.

The former Dutch finance minister's statement of a transformed relationship with Athens, in the wake of Varoufakis' departure and the subsequent passing of a third bailout memorandum, was seized upon by Greek mass media and widely circulated over Greek-language social media.

"(Greek) Prime Minister (Alexis) Tsipras and, of course, (current Greek finance minister) Euclid Tsakalotos, have completely changed the relationship with the European partners. Almost everything has been easier since ... it’s a completely different situation,” he was quoted by FT as saying.

Additionally, he deflected past criticism that Berlin and Wolfgang Schaeuble were Athens' only detractors during the tumultuous 2015 negotiations.

"Behind the broad back of Germany were a number of countries lining up, who simply said ‘We’re done. We don’t have any confidence. We don’t want to talk any more with the Greek government. We want to talk about Plan B’,” he said, pointing to counties in " central and south-eastern Europe".

In a later reaction, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Dijsselbloem "admitted to what we've known all along: that there was no negotiation because Tsipras said 'yes' to everything".

In a barb aimed towards European creditors as well, the center-right political leader said this was the reason that "everyone (creditors, government) is contented, however, the issue is whether (Greek) citizens are content."

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