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Greeks ‘deserve better’: new finance minister

Athens , July 07: Greeks declared in a weekend referendum that they “deserve better” and “cannot accept a non-viable solution” to the country’s debt crisis, new Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said upon taking office.

“We want to continue the discussion… I believe something can change in Europe,” said a shaken Tsakalotos, who admitted to having “stage fright” upon assuming the post “not at the easiest moment in Greek history”.

A 55-year-old leftist economist who had been a pointman in Greece’s bailout talks since April, Tsakalotos replaced the flamboyant Yanis Varoufakis hours after the latter resigned on Monday, ostensibly to facilitate the negotiations.

“I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings,” Varoufakis, who had often clashed with creditors in negotiations over the past months, said on his blog.

Tsakalotos is far less abrasive than Varoufakis but no less determined to secure a deal compatible with the hard-left government’s agenda.

“We want to take (Sunday’s referendum) mandate from the Greek people for something better for the working people, for the people suffering, for those who lost their jobs, who saw their pensions reduced, for the youths who went abroad,” the new minister said.

“The Greek people proved they were not afraid and are not looking out just for themselves. This government will do the same in the coming period,” he said.