Friday, May 1, 2015

Euclid Tsakalotos: from Oxford to Greece's lead bailout negotiator

Helena Smith in Athens Wednesday 29 April 2015

The economist is likely to be methodical, detail-oriented and tenacious in his new role – the polar opposite of his maverick predecessor Yanis Varoufakis

Euclid Tsakalotos, who is described amiable, low-key and professorial

Euclid Tsakalotos, who is described amiable, low-key and professorial. He also has a penchant for corduroy. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Euclid Tsakalotos, the Oxford University-educated economist elevated to the top post of bailout negotiations coordinator, is the polar opposite of the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. Diffident and soft-spoken, the 55-year-old’s wow factor is limited to a wardrobe of colourful corduroys and a trademark yellow and black scarf.

In person he is amiable, low-key and professorial, the embodiment of the academic he has been for the past 30 years. It is a world away from untrammelled narcissism, of which the maverick finance minister has been accused.

Greece’s outspoken finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, left, with Tsakalotos.

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s outspoken finance minister, left, with Tsakalotos. Photograph: Reuters

Tsakalotos was born in Holland and raised in the UK, the son of a prominent Greek family who sent him to the exclusive London private school St Paul’s. He relocated to Athens with his British wife in the early 90s after teaching economics at Kent University. His fluent spoken Greek, even today, is tinged by his international background and unmistakable English accent.

As the new point man who will coordinate face-to-face contact between Athens and its creditors, Tsakalotos is likely to be methodical, detail-oriented and tenacious. His leftist views, adopted at Oxford where he belonged to the student wing of Greece’s euro communist party, were honed in the anti-globalisation movement.

Like Varoufakis, who officials say will continue to have the last say in policy, Tsakalotos supports Eurozone membership but is adamantly against the implementation of further recessionary measures that will deepen the country’s economic death spiral. While he concedes the new Syriza-led government has made the mistakes that come with inexperience, he also says the administration has learned from them.

Tsakalotos believes the anti-austerity government speaks for the growing numbers across Europe who, subjected to the brutal vagaries of the market, feel excluded from decision-making. “We are only more radical in the sense that we have been influenced by the anti-globalisation movement and believe in concepts of participatory democracy,” he told the Guardian. “The angst Syriza has caused is down to us challenging a system that can’t actually represent the interests of ordinary people.”

Euclid Tsakalotos: from Oxford to Greece's lead bailout negotiator | Business | The Guardian

Who Is the Greek Economist that Sidelined Superstar Yanis Varoufakis

by Aggelos Skordas - Apr 28, 2015


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras‘ decision to practically replace the head of the negotiating team with its European partners by sidelining controversial Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and replacing him with the low profile Alternate Foreign Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos may have temporarily pleased the country’s creditors, although there are increasing voices that this move cannot guarantee Greece’s success in the economic field.

Probably this substitution might affect the climate in a positive way, at least in the short term, but when the honeymoon is over in June, when the two sides have to reach a separate agreement on restructuring or even refinancing the overall Greek public debt, the clouds might return, especially if we take into account the tensed relations thus far. Indicative of the European officials’ mood are Euro group President Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s latest statements that Greece will not make it without any further assistance, despite the recent shakeup of Greek Premier’s negotiating team, as this cannot resolve the impasse with creditors. “Without further loans, Greece will not make it, that’s the reality,” he said, explaining that the Greek government’s consideration to bring a possible agreement to the people’s judgment “would cost money, it would create great political uncertainty and I don’t think we have the time.”

For the time, though, it seems that the remaining 7.2-billion-euro bailout instalment is finally going to be disbursed, after a revised and complete reforms list is submitted within the coming, crucial month. In fact, the two sides might be displaying their good will but no one in Athens or Brussels can guarantee how long this truce could last.

Who is Euclid Tsakalotos

But who is the European-raised economist Euclid Tsakalotos who will from now and on have Greece’s final call in negotiations?

Tsakalotos was born in 1960 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He studied Economics, Politics and Philosophy at the Universities of Oxford and Sussex, and completed his PhD in 1989 at the University of Oxford.

From 1989 to 1990, he worked as a researcher at the University of Kent and later taught at the Universities of Kent (October 1990 – June 1993) and Athens University of Economics and Business (October 1994 – September 2010). Since 2010, he is Professor of Economics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

He is the author of six books and editor of three edited volumes. He has published numerous articles in economic journals, as well as political articles in newspapers and magazines. His published articles also include participation in fifteen collective volumes.

In May 2012 he was elected a SYRIZA MP in Athens and he was re-elected in January 2015. He served as a member of the Central Political Committee and the Political Secretariat of SYN and member of the Executive Committee of POSDEP (Hellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations). He is a member of SYRIZA‘s Central Committee.

He is the nephew of decorated General of the Greek Army Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos who participated in World War I, the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922 and World War II, rising to become Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGF) and played a significant role during the Greek Civil War.