Scicluna reports ‘complete breakdown in communication’ with Greece

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis chided as EU finance ministers reject bid for shortcut to aid

Maltese finance minister Edward Scicluna and Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis
Maltese finance minister Edward Scicluna and Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Malta’s finance minister Edward Scicluna has officially declared that there is a complete communication breakdown between EU finance ministers and Greece over its demands for more concessions on EU loans.

“I would describe today’s meeting as complete breakdown of communication with Greece,” Scicluna told Bloomberg from Riga, Latvia, where ministers met to discuss, among other things, Greece’s demands for more aid in exchange for a narrower programme of reforms.

Insiders to the stormy meeting said that finance ministers hurled abuse at Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, shutting down his bid to find a shortcut to releasing financial aid.

It’s a “breakdown between Greece, institutions and the Eurogroup. There is an apparent detachment between both sides. We cannot reach an agreement. We all want a solution that Greece be saved but they reply asking for more and more time, delaying and also speaking a different language to what the Eurogroup and institutions are speaking,” Scicluna said.

He said that finance ministers in Riga were “surprised and shocked at the way things have been spelt out. There is a huge gap between Varoufakis and what the institutions are saying about what is really going on. It is clear nobody is speaking the same language.”

He added that institutions were being pushed to hostility “in the sense that during the discussions they felt that they were moving forward, but the way they reported to the Eurogroup today is completely different.”

Scicluna said that during the meeting he proposed a one-hour break to then continue talking about Greece. “But it’s been left suspended... we need to sit down and get an agreement. This cannot go on”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the euro-zone finance chiefs’ group, categorically ruled out making a partial aid payment in exchange for a narrower programme of reforms.

“It was a very critical discussion and it showed a great ense of urgency around the room,” Dijsselbloem said at a press conference after the meeting. Asked if there was any chance of a partial disbursement, he said, “The answer can be very short: No.”

While Varoufakis claimed the two sides had edged closer on a deal, insiders to the meeting said Varoufakis was described as a “time-waster, a gambler and an amateur”.