By Mehreen Khan 04 February 2015
Ahead of crunch talks with his German counterpart, Greece's new 'rock-star' minister says he has already opened talks about a debt deal with the IMF
Sealing it with a handshake? Syriza are on a charm offensive across the Eurozone Photo: AP Pix
Greece's finance minister has declared himself in charge of a "bankrupt country" and declined the offer of yet more loans from European creditors or financial assistance from Russia.
Ahead of a crunch meeting with his counterpart Wolfgang Schaueble on Thursday, Mr Varoufakis compared his country to a jobless worker with a mortgage.
"Would you give him another loan so he can make payments on his house? That cannot work. I’m the finance minister of a bankrupt country!" he told Germany's De Zeit newspaper.
Following meetings in the UK and France, Mr Varoufakis is in Germany to strike a deal with the Eurozone's largest creditor nation about renegotiating the terms of Greece's bailout.
The finance minister also had a "fruitful exchange" with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi in Frankfurt earlier today.
"I presented [Draghi with] our government’s utter and unwavering determination that it can’t possibly be business as usual in Greece," Mr Varoufakis told reporters.
Despite more conciliatory tones coming from the far-Left party, Berlin's continued intransigence on Syriza's plans to stimulate the economy were laid out in a leaked document on Wednesday.
Ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday, Germany is expected to demand that Syriza drop its anti-austerity promises and continues to stick by its existing bailout arrangements.
Having had proposals for an outright debt-cancellation rejected by Brussels, Mr Varoufakis proposed Greece's repayment burden be lowered by having its debt interest linked to future growth.
Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, he said talks about such an arrangement had already begun with the IMF.
The claims were later denied by the Fund, who said they had not entered into any discussions with the anti-austerity government.
"There is an agreed framework for dealing with debt in the current program," said the IMF in a statement.
Mr Varoufakis also called for the ECB to provide a short-term loan to help keep the country's lenders afloat.
"The European Central Bank should support our banks so that we can keep ourselves above water by issuing short-term government bonds."
Greece's finance minister spoke to ECB chief Mario Draghi in Frankfurt (Source: Getty)
In return, Mr Varoufakis assured German voters his government would seek to dismantle the "cronyism and corruption" that has held back the country for decades.
"Germans have to understand that it doesn’t mean we’re turning away from the reform path if we give an additional €300 a year to a pensioner living on €300 a month. When we talk about reforms, we should talk about cartels, about rich Greeks who hardly pay any taxes."
The finance minister ruled out any plea for financial aid from Russia, and called on the German Chancellor to put forward a "Merkel Plan" based on the post-war Marshall loans granted by the United States to rehabilitate Germany after the war.
"I believe the EU would benefit if Germany conceived of itself as a hegemon," said Mr Varoufakis. "But a hegemon must shoulder responsibility for others.
"Germany would use its power to unite Europe. That would be a wonderful legacy for Germany’s federal chancellor."
Who owns Greek debt?
(Source: Open Europe)