Greek Finance Minister plays the press

New Europe / Alexandros Michailidis

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (R) arrives at Europa building, where Eurogroup finance ministers meeting is to take place in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 26, 2017

Greek Minster of Finance, Euclid Tsakalotos, did whatever humanly and ministerially possible to avoid journalists during his last trip to Brussels when both him and his press assistant were nowhere to be found.


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It was almost an hour before the central press conference of the Euro zone finance ministers Eurogroup meeting, when the European Council’s press service issued an advisory of the press conferences that were to take place after the ministers wrapped up their talks at the brand new meeting room of the Europa “egg” building.

The French finance minister was to give a press conference in his country’s regular briefing room at the Justus Lipsius building, but neither the Greek Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, nor the Greek Permanent Representation would confirm anything about their own press show.

Press workers waited until the big press conference started for more details, but it even after the Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the European Commissioner for Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici and European Stability Mechanism’s (ESM) Managing Director Klaus Regling concluded the press conference it wasn’t clear whether Greece would brief the Brussels press corps.

An SMS that Tsakalotos would doorstep at the brand new VIP entrance stirred a rush, only to be followed by a long wait at Europa’s (freezing cold) doorstep. This was then followed by a cancelling SMS (sent to Greek-speaking journalists). This made the Europe by Satellite (EBS) cameras almost get up and leave the doorstep. The journalists were ready to call it a day.

It was only a couple of minutes later that as if by magic, the Greek Permanent Representation began to apologise to journalists, when Tsakalotos appeared and started making a statement to a camera, instead of departing immediately as was previously announced. The Greek Finance Minister, did not take questions and rushed to the silver van of the Greek delegation. A Kassandra source suggested the heating in the car was running for a long time, making the sudden change of temperature from sub-freezing to over 20 degrees Celsius discomfort the Minister.

Things did not change on Friday either, when neither Tsakalotos, nor his Athens spokesperson appeared in front of the press, making sure that it was almost three hours till they left; until the last finance ministers of the 28 had departed, and after the ECOFIN meeting came to an end and Commission’s Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis joined the Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna on their first common press conference.

Tsakalotos side failed to confirm any meetings that he would have had during these hours when the press was at the cold doorstep. The tactic raises questions on his failure to provide answers on Greece’s future moves concerning the difficult situation of the second review, after all EU institutions have aligned their position with the IMF’s “pre-legislation” demand of measures for the 2019-2020 period, the time Greece’s third bailout programme is to conclude.

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