Tsakalotos named new finance chief

Mr Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford graduate who serves as the chief economic spokesman for the Greek government, will take over from former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
Mr Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford graduate who serves as the chief economic spokesman for the Greek government, will take over from former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

ATHENS - If the five-month tenure of Greece's pugnacious former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was marked with outspokenness, the man who replaces him is a Marxist with a diametrically opposite temperament.

Mr Euclid Tsakalotos, a soft-spoken economist, will take over from Mr Varoufakis, who resigned soon after Greeks voted a resounding "no" to cash-for-bailout proposals of its euro zone creditors.

"I shall wear the creditors' loathing with pride," said the outgoing rookie politician, who has been accused of nearly coming to blows with euro zone chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Telegraph reported.

Mr Tsakalotos is an Oxford graduate who serves as the chief economic spokesman for the Syriza-led Greek government.

Often described as the "brains behind Syriza's economic policy", Mr Tsakalotos has been a member of Syriza for nearly a decade, serving as an MP in the Greek Parliament since 2012, and taking the lead in bail-out negotiations in April.

Educated at Britain's St Paul's school, the Rotterdam-born Mr Tsakalotos read politics, philosophy and economics as an undergraduate, then did his PhD in economics at Oxford in 1989.

Like many of his fellow Leftist parliamentarians, Mr Tsakalotos' background is as a jobbing Western academic rather than a career politician, having taught at the universities of Kent and Athens.

He has also authored and co-authored six books, the most recent of which seeks to debunk the causes of Greece's economic turmoil.

In his 2012 book, Crucible Of Resistance: Greece, The Eurozone And The World Economic Crisis, Mr Tsakalotos argued that Greece underwent two decades of neo-liberal modernisation before the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

And far from advocating a "Grexit", he thinks Greece should maintain its membership of the euro.

"A Greek road to socialism where you exit the euro and do your own national strategy seems to be a straight re-run of Britain in the 1970s and France in the 1980s," he told an audience last year.

Mr Tsakalotos was to be sworn in yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Tsakalotos named new finance chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe