Varoufakis admits recording stormy Riga meeting

GMT 15:40 2015 Sunday ,24 May

Arab Today, arab today Varoufakis admits recording stormy Riga meeting

Yanis Varoufakis (L)
Athens - AFP

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis admitted Sunday on his personal blog that he recorded a reportedly stormy April 24 meeting in Latvia with his European counterparts, a precaution he often takes.

"In the absence of minutes, I often record my interventions and responses on my mobile phone... to be able to recount my exact phrases and, accordingly, to brief my Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament etc. on precisely what I said," Varoufakis wrote.

"I did the same in the Riga Eurogroup meeting and, afterwards, back in Athens, used that recording to work on my brief to my colleagues," he added in his post titled "The truth about Riga."

The acknowledgement comes as tense negotiations between Athens and its European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund creditors over terms for the release of 7.2 billion euro ($7.9 billon) in blocked bailout funds near their critical phase.

Greece faces a series of heavy debt repayment obligations starting June 5, and anger among its eurozone partners has spiked amid continued Greek rejection of reforms and spending cuts in exchange for the frozen bailout funds -- a standoff raising the spectre of the nation's default, and chaotic exit from the euro.

The first indication Varoufakis had recorded the debt talks with Eurogroup peers appeared in a lengthy New York Times profile published online on Wednesday.

In it he refuted reports he was mistreated or insulted by counterparts at the Riga talks, with the paper noting Varoufakis's claim he "taped the meeting but cannot release the tape because of confidentiality rules."

"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 told the Times.

Reaction to his confirmation of having recorded the talks forced Varoufakis to reiterate Thursday that he respected the confidentiality of the negotiations, and did not intend to make the recording public.  

"My respect for the confidentiality of my discussions with my partners, with my counterparts, with institutions, is exemplary and I think that everyone has seen and understood that," he said in a statement.

Varoufakis's latest blog post on the matter came after his interview to the BBC Sunday, when he said it is now up to Greece's creditors to start making concessions towards an agreement.

"We have met them three-quarters of the way, they need to meet us one-quarter of the way," he told Andrew Marr.

Referring to Greece's pending debt payment schedule, Varoufakis warned that "at some point, we will not be able to meet our obligations" without the blocked aid.   

"It is not in their interests as our creditors that the cow that produces the milk should be beaten into submission to the extent that the milk will not be enough for them to get their money back", he added.


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