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'I Shall Wear the Creditors' Loathing with Pride': Greece's Finance Minister Resigns

Yanis Varoufakis described Sunday's Greek "no" vote as a "majestic, big yes to a democratic Europe," and a rejection of the "dystopic vision of a Eurozone that functions like an iron cage for its peoples."

by VICE News
Jul 6 2015, 2:45pm

Photo by Petros Karadjias/AP

A day after Greece's citizens voted overwhelmingly to reject the conditions offered on a financial bailout package from its European creditors, the country's finance minister resigned.

In a blog post on Monday, Yanis Varoufakis wrote: "Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup [a meeting of the Eurozone finance ministers] participants, and assorted 'partners,' for my… 'absence' from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement."

He continued: "I consider it my duty to help [Prime Minister] Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday's referendum. And I shall wear the creditors' loathing with pride."

This came hours after Varoufakis described the Greek "no" vote as a "majestic, big yes to a democratic, rational Europe," and a rejection of the "dystopic vision of a Eurozone that functions like an iron cage for its peoples."

Related: Financial Chaos Looms After Greeks Reject Bailout With Resounding 'Oxi' Vote

On Sunday, 61 percent of voters opted to embrace uncertainty, and a possible exit from the Eurozone, but emphatically reject the austerity measures that they believe have crippled the country.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are due to meet late on Monday to discuss the referendum result, ahead of a meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon.

Tsipras and Merkel reportedly spoke by phone, on Monday, when they agreed that Greece would present fresh proposals at the meeting on Tuesday.

Since country's debt crisis began in 2008, Greece's gross domestic product has shrunk by more than a quarter. More than 25 percent of Greece's population is unemployed while young Greeks are disproportionately affected, with unemployment among them peaking at 60 percent in 2013.

Related: Greeks Divided as Polls Close in Hotly Contested Referendum

Left-wing party Syriza have led the Greek government since coming to power in January, after promising to bring an end to austerity. Tsipras spoke on the phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, according to the Guardian

Speaking to reporters the same day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "We treat with respect the voice raised during the plebiscite." He added that Russia would like Greece to make decisions that contribute to "social and economical stability in the country."

Both European and Asian stock markets have taken a hit since the result was announced.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what will happen next, though Greek banks, which were closed last week, will remain shut for several more days. Germany, meanwhile, has warning that no further concessions will be made on the terms of the financial terms of the bailout.

Deputy chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said Greece is now threatened with insolvency, while German finance ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said: "Our position is well-known… a debt cut is not an issue for us."

Related: Yes or No? Greece Again on the Brink: Greek Debt Crisis (Dispatch 1)

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt, told reporters on Monday that Greece can't endure anymore austerity, the policy has failed, and that the country's European creditors should have paid more attention to the relationship between international law and financial debt.

"It's very clear the message from the Greek population — no more austerity measures. Actually if you look at the figures, austerity measures didn't really help the country to recover," Bohoslavsky added.