Europe

Greece's Varoufakis attacked by youths in Athens

Yanis Varoufakis (R) with Danae Stratou (file pic) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Varoufakis (here in a file photo) was dining outside with his wife Danae Stratou and a friend

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has described how he and his wife were abused by a group of youths at a restaurant in Athens late on Tuesday.

The minister says the couple were with a friend when they were confronted by "anti-state activists", who threw glass objects at them.

Mr Varoufakis has been criticised for his handling of talks with Greece's international creditors.

He was sidelined this week as the government urgently seeks a deal.

The finance minister said he was sitting outside at a restaurant in the Exarchia district with his wife, artist Danae Stratou, and a friend, when they came under attack from a number of youths.

The area is seen as popular with far-left activists. Mr Varoufakis's left-wing Syriza party has in recent years moved closer to the centre.

In a statement to Greek media, he said he did not believe the youths intended to harm him or his wife but merely hit them lightly.

His wife then shielded him by hugging him with her back towards the youths, he said.

Another verbal confrontation took place as the couple tried to leave the restaurant on his motorbike, he said.

"I started a dialogue with them, saying that I wanted to hear them out, even if that meant that I would be hit," he said.

Photo spread

Mr Varoufakis has been widely criticised in recent weeks at home and abroad.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Varoufakis was sidelined from the talks with EU partners after criticism of his negotiating style

The couple were featured in a photo spread of their Athens flat by French magazine Paris Match and Mr Varoufakis's negotiating style has been criticised by his European counterparts.

Fellow minister Euclid Tsakalotos took Mr Varoufakis's place in talks with Greece's European partners late on Monday, in an attempt to unlock a vital €7.2bn (£5bn; $8bn) tranche in its bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

Greece faces almost €1bn in debt interest payments to the IMF in the next fortnight as well as regular salary payments to civil servants.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption When ERT broadcasts were shut down, some staff defiantly produced programmes on the internet

The EU wants to see the Syriza-led government commit itself to wide-ranging reforms before providing more money from the €240bn bailout.

On Monday night, parliament in Athens voted to reinstate public broadcaster ERT, taken off air in 2013 as part of a round of spending cuts by the previous government in attempt to meet the demands of its international creditors.

ERT was replaced by a slimmed-down broadcaster Nerit but the government has said it will rehire some 2,500 staff with a monthly supplement on electricity bills.


Image copyright Reuters

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