Varoufakis extends hand of friendship to Germany

20th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis pleaded Friday for an end to the "toxic blame game" over the country's mountain of debt that has seen Athens and Berlin at each other's throats.

Having been involved in a spat this week over whether he raised his middle finger to Germany -- the eurozone's paymaster -- in a 2013 video clip that he insisted was doctored, the economist took to his blog to claim "the moralising finger-pointing benefits only the enemies of Europe."

Under the title "Of Greeks and Germans: Re-imagining our shared future", he appealed for the two countries to bury the hatchet.

"We need to focus on our joint interest -- on how to grow and to reform Greece rapidly, so that the Greek state can best repay debts it should never have taken on while looking after its citizens as a modern European state ought to do," he wrote.

Varoufakis urged that Europe should be re-designed "so that Germans and Greeks, along with all Europeans, can re-imagine our monetary union as a realm of shared prosperity."

He also touched on the controversy over the "doctored" video of a talk he gave at a conference in Zagreb in 2013, writing: "Any sensible person can see how a certain video has become part of something beyond a gesture. It has sparked off a kerfuffle reflecting the manner in which the 2008 banking crisis began to undermine Europe's badly designed monetary union, turning proud nations against each other."

A German TV presenter admitted Wednesday to faking the video showing Varoufakis giving the middle-finger gesture to Germany, after the politician vehemently contested the authenticity of the clip, shot long before he became a minister in Greece's radical new left-wing government.

Jan Boehmermann, host of satirical programme "Neo Magazin Royale" on public broadcaster ZDF, said, "Sorry Mr Varoufakis, we won't do it again."

To add to the confusion, the footage was first shown on the Guenther Jauch weekly talk show on the rival ARD channel late Sunday, prompted an immediate and vehement rebuttal live on air from the Greek minister via a link from Athens.

The channel said the video was now being checked by experts.

However Boehmermann said Wednesday his team had doctored the footage in late February, and described manipulating shadows to make the changes more realistic.

In his blog post, Varoufakis hammered home that he was against the two huge bailouts given to Greece in 2010 and 2012 because they were "a cynical transfer of losses from the books of the private banks to the weak shoulders of the weakest of Greek citizens."

Whether he raised his finger or not in the 2013 video, Varoufakis can be heard in the clip saying that Greece should have defaulted in 2010 to "stick the finger to Germany saying, 'Well, you can now solve this all by yourself.'"

© 2015 AFP

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