Greece's pro-euro Tsakalotos back as finance minister

Euclid Tsakalotos arriving for a handover ceremony at the ministry in Athens, on Aug 28, 2015.
Euclid Tsakalotos arriving for a handover ceremony at the ministry in Athens, on Aug 28, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - Affable Oxford-trained economist, Euclid Tsakalotos, who was re-appointed Greece's finance minister, is a New Left pro-European who sees Greece's future within the euro.

In his short first stint as minister from July 6 to August 20, when premier Alexis Tsipras called a snap election, the 55-year-old helped craft the tough austerity bailout agreed by the premier to prevent the debt-crippled nation's "Grexit" - or exit from the eurozone.

Throughout the make-or-break talks he remained as discreet and tight-lipped as his predecessor Yanis Varoufakis was flamboyant and confrontational.

In August he drove through parliament the framework legislation setting out the painful austerity measures demanded by lenders in return for the 86-billion-euro rescue, the country's third bailout in five years.

Elected to parliament in 2012 on behalf of the anti-austerity leftwing Syriza party, and a member of its central committee, he was deputy minister of foreign affairs before being given the finance portfolio.

He has said in recent interviews that he believes a Syriza government can remain loyal to its leftwing ideals despite the austerity measures to come.

They can do so by overseeing how the measures are applied, taking social justice into account and sticking to pledges to try to obtain a reduction of the country's massive debt.

"The time has come for Europe to decide whether it will accept a government and a people who won't swallow everything that's dished up," he said in July.

But Mr Tsakalotos will have his job cut out for him.

The first test will be a review due late October by Greece's lenders on whether Athens is abiding by the reforms programme. At stake for the new government will be the release of a new three-billion-euro tranche of aid.

Greece's new parliament, expected to convene on October 1, will have to revise the 2015 budget, taking into account pension and income tax reforms, including taxes on farmers' income that are set to double by 2017.

The government must also finalise a procedure to recapitalise Greek banks by December, before new EU-wide bank rescue regulations that could affect depositors come into play in 2016.

And Mr Tsakalotos will have to move quickly to remove capital controls imposed in June to avert a deposit run.

Born in Rotterdam and married to a Scottish economist, the father-of-three was educated in England and completed his PhD in economics as Oxford. He taught economics at Kent University in Britain between 1990 and 1993 before relocating to Athens.

He was subsequently based at the Athens University of Economics from 1994 to 2010 before moving to the capital's National University.

Mr Tsakalotos has six books to his name, the latest titled "No Return: capitalist crises, social needs, socialism".