Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister, has set a new standard for “leaving on a high note.” He resigned immediately after the landslide victory of the “όχι” (no) in the Greek referendum refusing further austerity in exchange for further bailout.
He did it, as per his official declaration, to be a team player: Knowing that he’s persona non grata at the negotiation table, he left his chair to someone more moderate who has a better chance of being liked by Greece’s creditors, Euclid Tsakalotos. British-accented and mild mannered, the new minister starts with a clean slate, not having openly painted the creditors in unflattering colors on a number of occasions.
In a post on his blog, titled “Minister No More!” Varoufakis announced his decision in his classically no-nonsense tone. His parting line: “I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride,” is already a hit.
After resigning, Varoufakis got on his motorcycle and rode away with his wife into the Greek summer:
It’s going to take time before the next “erratic Marxist” rockstar takes the international stage. Until that time comes, here is a collection of some of Varoufakis’s best moments:
When he said how likely Greece is to meet the conditions that would make the ECB conditions acceptable:
“Pigs would, of course, sooner fly!”
When he was pretty clear in naming the Eurogroup’s strategy (link in Spanish):
“Why did they force us to close the banks? To instil fear in people. And spreading fear is called terrorism.”
When he said the euro zone is like “Hotel California“:
“You see, the problem is, that once you’re in, just like you will recall the Eagles song “Hotel California,” “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”
When he called Syriza “riffraff”:
“We blame ourselves. That is why this government was elected. We are the leftwing riff raff that has been arguing for decades that the Greek oligarchy is the greatest impediment to growth.”
When he got his priorities straight:
“We will cut expenses of Finance Ministry in order to re-hire the cleaning ladies sacked by the previous government.”
When he explained his relationship with Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schaüble:
“it is, from my perspective, a multi-layered relationship. There is a sense of awe that I feel from meeting with a legendary figure whose work I have been following critically for decades. Then there is a strong urge to counter his overarching approach to common problems regarding Europe.”
When he had choice words for the press about rumors of insults flying at the negotiation table:
“Secrecy and a gullible press do not augur well for Europe’s democracy.”
When he spoke like FDR:
When he called the past rumors of his resignation premature, not false:
And when he actually welcomed them:
“It’s an honour that Bild is trying to annoy me. The more they do it, the better I sleep at night.”
When he gave this description of the European monetary union:
“This is not the way to run a monetary union. This is a travesty. It’s a comedy of errors for five years now.”
And when he was a real proud nerd:
“I am being treated as a strange bird because I talk macroeconomics. […] It’s astonishing to me that having a quasi-sophisticated discussion of economics is almost considered to be bad manners.”
Eυχαριστώ, Yanis—you will be missed.