Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tells Stern that he doesn’t want to have power. “That might sound hypocritical, but I mean it in all sincerity,” he states, adding that most of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) cabinet feel that way. Refering to his motives of taking the job of Greek Finance minister he states, “You do it because you must.”
He criticizes the situation where “Greek taxpayers shouldered the burden of the banks’ losses as a result of the debt haircut, after which the burden was shifted to Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt,” he states.
He praises German Chancellor Angela Merkel as being “the most astute politician in Europe” and Wolfgang Schauble as the “only European politician with intellectual substance.” He states “Germans are very good Europeans, even more so than the French or Greeks,” however he states that “fingerpointing” is “stupid” and we should be thinking as Europeans.
Refering to his death threats in 2011. “At the time I was helping some journalists with their investigations into various banking scandals. One night, I received a phone call and a stranger asked me whether my son had already come home. The caller then described the route my son had taken and said: if you want him to come home safely in the future, then stop investigating the banking business. That was another reason why we moved to Texas,” he says, adding that he has no idea who was behind the death threats.
Asked about whether the banks are part of a super-rich elite that has benefitted from the Greek crisis, Varoufakis states that the government will “smath” them though he has no idea how as yet. “We’re the first Greek government to really be willing to smash the cartels in our country,” he states.
Asked about his willingness to fly economy class and ride a motorbike, he states that it has nothing to do with symbolism. He states that he is unhappy when he goes somewhere and the traffic is interrupted for him. “I want to carry on living my own life. I want to ride my motrobike and walk home if I like. Do I have to be unhappy because I’m a minister? Some people ask me why I dress like that? I’ve always dressed this way!” he states, not seeing why he should change.