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Yanis Varoufakis: 'I am a reluctant politician'

Jessica Jones · 20 Apr 2015, 13:43

Published: 20 Apr 2015 13:43 GMT+02:00

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Christened the "Greek minister of awesome" in a song by a group of German comedians, Yanis Varoufakis does not resemble your typical politician with his leather jackets and favoured mode of transport: his motorbike.

But in an interview on Sunday evening with Spanish television programme Salvados, in which journalist Jordi Évole referred to him as "one of the men of the year" Varoufakis revealed:  

"It’s unpleasant, the personality cult can only do damage, it is not something that helps with the work at hand."

The former academic said he had not changed his wardrobe when he swapped university corridors for those of the Greek parliament:

"Up until three months ago, I was an academic; I dress like this in academic meetings. It would be hypocritical to start dressing differently because I suddenly found myself in a different position."

Up until he took up the position of finance minister after the left-wing party, Syriza, swept to power after snap Greek elections were called in January 2015, Varoufakis had been a professor of economics, working in Australia and the USA.

Before the wide-ranging interview, Varoufakis joked that he was willing to answer any questions, apart from his opinion on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

On the Euro crisis, he said the fault lay not in bailing out the banks, but in bailing out the bankers. He said the ideal situation would have been to "nationalize" the banks.

The biggest error in the handling of the Euro crisis "wasn't saving the banks, but saving the bankers," he said. 

He also revealed that becoming a politician was never his plan, that he was a professor, who had "become a minister by accident". 

Varoufakis took a swipe at career politicians, claiming: 

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"Whoever wants to be a politician is dangerous because they want power."

The Greek finance minister became internationally renowned back in February when a German television programme penned a spoof song "V for Varoufakis". 

The clip has had over two million views on YouTube and has done little to quell what Varoufakis refers to as the "personality cult" surrounding him. 

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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