Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis during a news conference in Brussels last month. On Thursday, Varoufakis said he would "prefer to cut off his arm" than sign the deal which Greece will have a chance to vote on in a referendum this Sunday. (Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman)

 

Varoufakis: 'I Prefer To Cut My Arm Off' Than Sign Deal without Debt Relief

Greek Finance Minister says he will resign his post if Greeks vote in favor of accepting the latest austerity-laden bailout package from foreign creditors

Jon Queally

Declaring that both he and the people he represents are tired of "extending and pretending" over the austerity conditions that have repeatedly been tied to bailout packages, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has expressed confidence that Sunday's scheduled referendum over the latest offer from the nation's foreign creditors, known as the Troika, will be rejected.

In fact, he said his feelings about the deal's inadequacy are so strong that he would "prefer to cut off his arm" than sign another agreement that does nothing to address the impossible debt burden that has been forced on Greece and its citizens.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV that aired early Thursday, Varoufakis explained that he perceives the high-stakes brinkmanship between the Syriza-led government and the Troika as one that is more political than economic in nature.

Speaking about the current imposition of capitol controls and the shuttering of Greek banks this week, Varoufakis put the blame squarely on the behavior of the Eurozone commissioners and moves made by the European Central Bank and the IMF. "There was a political decision to shut the banks down as a way of effectively pushing us to accept a non-viable agreement," Varoufakis said. "Once the political crisis is over, after the Greek people deliver their verdict, banks will open."

Though Varoufakis vowed the Syriza government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, would respect the wishes of the Greek people if they vote in favor on accepting continued austerity, he said that he personally would not sign the deal as it stands and would resign his post before doing so. "If there's a yes vote then we will sign the agreement," he said, before adding: "We may have to reconfigure the government because some of us will not be able to stomach it. I will not sign another extend and pretend deal. But I will not scupper it."

On Wednesday, Varoufakis published a concise 6-point memo explaining why he and Syriza's leadership think Greek voters should reject the offer by voting 'No.'

Chief among those reasons is the absence of anything in the current deal that addresses debt forgiveness or debt restructuring. As many economists agree, the level of current debt—coupled with policies that make future economic growth unlikely or impossible—is simply a recipe for prolonged suffering and recessionary trends. To make his stance clear, he  said, "I prefer to cut my arm off rather than sign an agreement without debt restructuring."

He continued, "I don't have the moral right to sign another 'extend and pretend' agreement which is condemning this economy to further disintegration." Varoufakis argued that Greece's unsustainable levels are an inherent detriment to its economy and said any capitalist or serious international investor—not just his own "left-wing government"—would acknowledge that as a fact. "The only way to get Grexit off the table," he said, "Is not to get rid of this government, but to get rid of those funding cliffs [created by investor scarcity and the bailout conditions] and the unsustainability of the debt."

For his full assessment of the current situation in Greece, watch Varoufakis' complete interview with Bloomberg TV here:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Watchdog: Secret Service Didn't Notify Capitol Police of Threat to Pelosi Until After Jan. 6 Attack

"This is deeply disturbing and requires a full investigation," said one legal expert.

Jessica Corbett ·


Advocates Welcome Temporary Block on South Carolina's 6-Week Abortion Ban

"Today's decision is a huge relief for people who desperately need abortion care in South Carolina right now," said one reproductive rights lawyer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Federal Court Strikes Down Ruling That Blocked Biden's Drilling Moratorium

"Today's decision demonstrates how flawed the preliminary injunction issued in June 2021 was, and that Interior must quickly take action to reform the federal fossil fuel program," said one environmental lawyer.

Julia Conley ·


Two Weeks Before Payments Resume, Progressives Tell Biden 'Time to Cancel Student Debt'

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that "we're having conversations daily with the White House and borrowers will know directly and soon from us when a decision is made."

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressive Mandela Barnes Leads Ron Johnson by 7 Points in New Poll

"People are done being represented by an out-of-touch, self-serving multimillionaire like Ron Johnson," said Wisconsin's Democratic Senate nominee.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo