Greek Speaker of the House Constantine Tassoulas rebuked MeRA25 leader and ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday for handing over to him in an envelope the conversations he had secretly recorded while attending a Eurogroup discussion in Brussels in 2015 and asking him to “use them as he sees fit.”
The incident happened in the Greek Parliament during a discussion on the government’s labor policies and after Varoufakis had addressed the plenary.
During his comments on wages, Varoufakis mentioned that he was depositing the Eurogroup recordings with the President of the body before leaving, and he then read a Supreme Court decision which he said found the recordings legal, since they were made while carrying out his duties as Minister.
Speaker Tassoulas returned the package to Varoufakis in a clear state of outrage, while telling him to “assume his own responsibilities” and not turn the Parliamentary President “into a bearer of his own responsibilities.”
The President then related to the Parliament members, “Shortly before leaving for the funeral of his best friend, as he told us, Mr. Varoufakis left a confidential, as he said, envelope for the President of the Parliament through MeRA25’s parliamentary group president.
“He assumed, in a speech delivered before he left for the funeral of his best friend, as he said, that the contents of this envelope relates to his secret recording of proceedings of top-level collective bodies of the European Union and thus apparently gave me the right, as he said, before leaving for the funeral of his best friend, the right to decide if I will pass it on to party leaders,” Tassoulas stated, barely able to rein in his anger.
The Speaker continued, declaring “I wanted to say that when someone feels the urge to assume an initiative – to announce secret recordings he has made – he must personally assume the responsibility of implementing this initiative. I do not see myself or the Parliament here as a porter or bearer of Mr. Varoufakis’ responsibilities.
“Therefore I am immediately summoning a staff member and returning Mr. Varoufakis’ letter as unacceptable. Parliament is not going to be turned into a bearer of any responsibility Mr. Varoufakis may personally wish to assume by revealing such secret recordings,” the President concluded.
The issue of Varoufakis’ secret recordings of the Eurogroup meetings during the first six months of the SYRIZA government of 2015, which eventually led to the referendum and the third bailout of the Greek economy, continues to create political tensions in Greece and in the EU as a whole.
The ex-Finance Minister claims that he did so as part of his duties and added that other ministers do it as well, but his claims continue to spark strong criticism from a wide spectrum of Greece’s political players, including SYRIZA, the party for which he was originally elected in January 2015.
Quite remarkable how oligarchic gvts fear transparency. Today I submitted to the Speaker a USB with all my (perfectly legal) 2015 Eurogroup recordings, asking him to make them available to MPs and the public. Panicked, he sent it back! Worry not. MeRA25 will let light in. Soon!
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) February 14, 2020
Varoufakis uploaded a Tweet later on Friday, promising that his party will soon reveal the contents of his recordings.