ATHENS – Furious that the Speaker of Greece’s Parliament refused to give to lawmakers a secret audio recording of negotiations with the country’s creditors in 2015, former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said he’ll put them out himself.
Varoufakis quit the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA after then-Premier Alexis Tsipras was squeezed by the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) to get rid of him – they were weary of battling with him.
Varoufakis wanted to stick to Tsipras’ pledge to reject more austerity before the SYRIZA leader reneged but the former finance chief’s combat with the Troika and European Union leaders became the stuff of a movie based on his book Adults in the Room, by director Costas Gavras.
Varoufakis said he made the tapes while he was squabbling with the Eurogroup, an informal meeting of the finance ministers of the 19 countries in the 27-member EU who use the euro as a currency and were tangling with him.
After Greek Parliament leader Costas Tassoulas from the ruling New Democracy said he wouldn’t do Varoufakis’ bidding, the leader of the tiny, anti-austerity MeRA25 party that only has nine lawmakers in the 300-member Parliament said he would release the tapes himself.
He posted the announcement on his personal web page hours after Tassoulas, refused to accept a memory stick Varoufakis sent him and said they would put out by the end of February without explaining why he didn’t do it now.
He also charged that “no one has the right to keep citizens in the dark, so MeRA25 will assume this action,” although he didn’t say why he’s waited five years to do it especially now after a book and a movie that critics said were both self-aggrandizing.
Varoufakis has faced sharp criticism for allegedly recording closed-door meetings where he and his peers discussed European economic and fiscal policy, although he has maintained that his actions were legal, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki among media reports.
Tassoulas was said to be upset that Varoufakis handed him an envelope with the memory stick of the recordings and asked the Parliament chief to “use them as he sees fit,” but wanting copies sent to other MP’s.
The incident happened in Parliament during a discussion on the government’s labor policies and after Varoufakis spoke and while taking about wages he said he was going to give Tassoulas the recordings and a read a Supreme Court decision which he said found the recordings legal.
Tassoulas returned the package to him, irate, and told him to “assume his own responsibilities” and not turn the President of Parliament “into a bearer of his responsibilities,” said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA.)
Tassoulas said: “Shortly before leaving for the funeral of his best friend, as he told us, Mr. Varoufakis left a confidential, as he said, envelope for the President of Parliament through MeRA25’s parliamentary group President.
“He assumed, in a speech delivered before he left for the funeral of his best friend, as he said, that the contents of this envelope relates to his secret recording of proceedings of top-level collective bodies of the European Union and thus apparently gave me the right, as he said, before leaving for the funeral of his best friend, the right to decide if I will pass it on to party leaders.”
Tassoulas continued: “I wanted to say that when someone feels the urge to assume an initiative – to announce secret recordings he has made – he must personally assume the responsibility of implementing this initiative. I do not see myself or Parliament here as a porter or bearer of Mr. Varoufakis’ responsibilities.
“Therefore I am immediately summoning a staff member and returning Mr. Varoufakis’ letter as unacceptable. Parliament is not going to turn into a bearer of any responsibility Mr. Varoufakis may personally wish to assume by revealing such secret recordings.”
The center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) also jumped on Varoufakis and said that if he wanted to publicize the recordings, he had to do it on his own, reminding, “KINAL has requested the setting up of an investigative committee on everything that happened in the economy.”