BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece’s new finance minister clearly wanted to avoid alienating his European colleagues as had his fast-talking predecessor. He took a note to their first meeting that read: “No triumphalism.”
Euclid Tsakalotos perhaps saw a risk of sounding smug after Greeks backed their left-wing government last Sunday against European Union leaders by rejecting a bailout proposal that called for stringent austerity measures.
Clutching a sheet of Brussels hotel notepaper as he arrived for Tuesday’s emergency meeting of euro zone finance ministers, Tsakolotos appeared to have made speaking notes for himself.
After “update on political situation”, he appeared to refer to the referendum with “Ref, of course ... rejection of instit(ution)s proposals ... mostly I think on viability grounds.”
It seemed to work. Several officials found him easier to deal with than Yanis Varoufakis, a fellow Marxist academic economist who resigned after Sunday’s referendum, saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras felt talks would go more smoothly without him.
As euro zone leaders convened a summit late on Tuesday to discuss prospects for Greece, one official familiar with the ministers’ talks said of Tsakalotos, “Much better than Varoufakis. More conciliatory, constructive - and modest.”
(This version of the story corrects the surname in paragraph 2 and last paragraph to Tsakalotos.)
Additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Toni Reinhold
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