From The Monthly in a sccop:
Let me just describe the moment after the announcement of the result. I made a statement in the Ministry of Finance and then I proceeded to the prime minister’s offices, the Maximos [also the official residency of the Greek prime minister], to meet with Aleksis Tsipras and the rest of the ministry. I was elated. That resounding no, unexpected, it was like a ray of light that pierced a very deep, thick darkness. I was walking to the offices, buoyed and lighthearted, carrying with me that incredible energy of the people outside. They had overcome fear, and with their overcoming of fear it was like I was floating on air. But the moment I entered the Maximos this whole sensation simply vanished. It was also an electric atmosphere in there, but a negatively charged one. It was like the leadership had been left behind by the people. And the sensation I got was one of terror: What do we do now?
I could tell [Tsipras] was dispirited. It was a major victory, one that I believe he actually savoured, deep down, but one he couldn’t handle. He knew that the cabinet couldn’t handle it. It was clear that there were elements in the government putting pressure on him. Already, within hours, he had been pressured by major figures in the government, effectively to turn the no into a yes, to capitulate.
[There were people in the government] who were counting on the referendum as an exit strategy, not as a fighting strategy.
When I realised that, I put to him that he had a very clear choice: to use the 61.5% no vote as an energising force, or [to] capitulate. And I said to him, before he had a chance to answer, ‘If you do the latter, I will clear out. I will resign if you choose the strategy of giving in. I will not undermine you, but I will steal into the night.’
Tsipras looked at me and said, ‘You realise that they will never give an agreement to you and me. They want to be rid of us.’
And then he told me the truth, that there were other members of the government pushing him into the direction of capitulation. He was clearly depressed.
I answered him, ‘You do the best with the choice that you’ve made, one that I disagree with wholeheartedly, but I am not here to undermine you.’
So then I went home. It was 4.30 in the morning. I was distraught – not personally, I don’t give a damn about moving out of the ministry; it was actually a great relief. I had to sit down between 4.30 and 9 in the morning and script the precise wording of my resignation because I wanted on one hand that it was supportive of Aleksis and not undermining him but on the other hand [to] make clear why I was leaving, that I was not abandoning ship. The ship itself had abandoned the course.”
The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble [had a plan]. I called it the Schäuble plan. He has been planning a Greek exit as part of his plan for reconstructing the eurozone. This is no theory. The reason why I am saying it is because he told me so.
This is Schäuble’s way of exacting concessions from France and Italy, that was what the game always was. The game was between Germany, France and Italy, and Greece was – not so much a scapegoat – we have an expression in Greece.
It is a clear strategy for influencing from Paris and from Rome,particularly from Paris, the kind of concessions towards creating a disciplinarian, Teutonic model of the eurozone.
Doesn’t forgive your own stupidity, Yanis, but it goes to show just how chaotic the negotiation was on the Greek side. Divided and conquered.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.