Greece debt: Varoufakis 'taped confidential EU meeting'

Yanis Varoufakis Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yanis Varoufakis denies he has been sidelined from the debt talks

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has caused a fresh furore after telling a newspaper he taped a private meeting of his eurozone counterparts.

Mr Varoufakis told the New York Times he could not release the recording due to confidentiality rules.

It follows controversy over his negotiating style at debt talks.

Greece's government says it will not be able to repay €1.5bn (£1.09bn) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 5 June without a deal within days.

Speaking to the NYT, Mr Varoufakis denied his fellow finance ministers had called him names at a meeting in Riga in April.

"All these reports that I was abused, that I was called names, that I was called a time-waster and all that: Let me say that I deny this with every fiber of my body," he said.

Image caption Mr Varoufakis denied being called names by his eurozone counterparts last month

Mr Varoufakis said he had taped the meeting but could not release the tape because of confidentiality rules, the newspaper reported.

In a statement released later, he did not refute the report, simply saying: "My respect for the confidentiality of my conversations with my partners, with my peers, with the institutions, is exemplary and I believe it has been acknowledged and understood by everyone."

The Greek finance minister was replaced as chief negotiator at the debt talks with EU creditors following the meeting amid reports of a row. He denied he had been sidelined.

Greece in numbers


Greece's debt mountain


European bailout

  • 177% country's debt-to-GDP ratio

  • 25% fall in GDP since 2010

  • 26% Greek unemployment rate


Greece has been locked in negotiations with the EU and IMF over economic reforms they say must be implemented before the final €7.2bn tranche of the country's €240bn bailout is released.

Issues over pension reform, taxation, deregulation of the labour market, and the re-hiring of 4,000 former civil servants are yet to be resolved.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is attending the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, where he wants to discuss a debt deal with other EU leaders.

The government has said it will prioritise the payment of salaries, pensions and the general running costs of the state over the IMF repayment on 5 June.

"Now is the moment of truth," Nikos Filis, spokesman for the ruling Syriza party's lawmakers, told Greek ANT1 television on Wednesday.

"If there is no deal by [5 June]... they won't get any money," he said.

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he could not rule out a Greek debt default, according to media reports.

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