[Marxism] Euclid Tsakalotos Re: reshuffle in Greece's economic team: speculation Tsipras wants a deal

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 13:32:39 MDT 2015

Syriza’s reshuffle: step forward a non-erratic Marxist
by Paul Mason
Channel 4 News, April 27

After a frantic weekend the Greek government sought to break the
deadlock in its talks with lenders today by reshuffling its
negotiating team.

Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister who made the global headlines
in the aftermath of Syriza’s election victory will take a back seat,
while the lesser known economic specialist in the foreign ministry
Euclid Tsakalotos will lead the talks.

Though both men are western educated, fluent English speaking
economists, their styles – and politics – are different.

Mr Tsakalotos is a classic Marxist of the New Left who, when he
addressed a meeting in the British parliament last month, brushed
aside calls by left Labour MPs for Greece to ditch the Euro on the
grounds that “national” economic programmes do not work. Mr Varoufakis
once described himself as an “erratic Marxist”; Mr Tsakalotos comes
from that school of Marxism which learned from the 1970s onwards to
make compromises with capitalist reality.

He is not only softer spoken; he is very attached to the idea of
Syriza as a reforming left-social government and existentially
committed to the Euro. What is more, he is a longstanding member of
Syriza, with a surer feel for what the party’s members will accept in
the compromise that he’ll have to craft.

But the issue is urgent. Those who’ve seen the books in Greece say the
country will be able to pay salaries and pensions this week, but that
the cash flow of the government looks bleak in May. By draining the
cash reserves of public bodies – local councils for example – Mr
Varoufakis has been able to keep Greece afloat, but in a way that saps
the resilience of such bodies – councils, hospitals etc – should
Greece break decisively with the ECB.

To be clear, Mr Varoufakis remains in charge of the finance ministry,
and of the government’s economic strategy. But by placing Mr
Tsakalotos – who’s been involved from the start – at the head of the
negotiating team, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is sending the strongest
possible signal that he wants a compromise to keep Greece inside the

A sense of the frustration on the Greek side can be got from a
briefing document, originating inside Mr Tsipras’ office, which
Channel 4 News has seen.

It speaks of “memorandum inertia”, complaining that Eurogroup
negotiators have continually tried to unpick the agreement Mr
Varoufakis signed on 20 February.
. . .
In a further concession to its lenders, Greece will facilitate the
work of EU and IMF teams in Athens: it had insisted all discussions go
via politicians rather than officials and it is this – procedural
rather than substantial – spat that lay behind the fractious end to
Friday’s Eurogroup meeting in Riga.
. . .
This misses a vital point: Mr Tsakalotos has decades of political
capital with the inner core of a couple of thousands Syriza activists
who will have to take the decision on whether to stomach the
compromise Greece will need to do.

He’ll have to face down the party’s left, which on the last count had
41 per cent of the votes for rejecting any deal with the Eurogroup.
Given his non-party background, that was always going to be Mr
Varoufakis biggest hurdle; now it will be jumped by someone else.
   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _
Inside Syriza’s economic brain [more on Tsakalotos]
Paul Mason
Channel 4 News, January 20, 2015

Varoufakis Downsized as Tsipras Forms New Greek Negotiating Team
by Philip Chrysopoulos
The Greek Reporter, April 27

Despite his expressed trust to Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis,
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proceeded with forming a new
political negotiating team putting Varoufakis at the helm but
appointing Deputy Finance Minister Euclides Tsakalotos as coordinator
of the group.

The setting up of a political negotiating group was decided on Sunday
at a meeting at the Maximos Mansion, chaired by Tsipras. General
Secretary of the Greek Government Spyros Sagias and General Secretary
of Fiscal Policy Nikos Theocharakis complete the group. The latter was
appointed to draft a plan for growth of the Greek economy. The plan
will be the basis of negotiations for the June agreement, when the
bailout program extension expires.

Government Vice President and responsible for the government’s council
of economic policy Yiannis Dragasakis, Economy Minister George
Stathakis, State Minister Nikos Pappas also participated in the

Analysts say that Tsipras took the decision after the finance minister
was harshly criticized for his appearance during Friday’s Eurogroup in
Riga. Tsakalotos, on the other hand, is more liked by lenders’
representatives and he will play a better role in face-to-face

Another move suggesting that Varoufakis will have a less prominent
role in negotiations, is the fact that the drafting of the new
economic plan has been given to Theocharakis, who had been leading
technical-level talks with creditors’ representatives.

Giorgos Chouliarakis, considered close to the powerful Dragasakis,
will take over responsibility for talks with the Brussels group, as
Athens prefers to call the lenders’ representatives. A new technical
team has also been set up to support European Union and International
Monetary Fund officials gathering information in the Greek capital.

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