In a recent visit to Belfast, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was asked how ‘betrayed’ he felt by Syriza, the party with whom he served in Government during fraught negotiations between the Greek government, the troika and other European governments in the summer of 2015.
The negotiations resulted in a proposal, with which Varoufakis disagreed, to inflict further austerity on Greece. The proposal was rejected by the Greek people in a referendum. Varoufakis was forced to resign as finance minister by the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, whose government went on to implement a program of massive austerity in Greece.
In response to the question “How betrayed do you feel by Syriza?” Varoufakis responded.
“We leftists have been very very good at creating gulags to which we sent each other, at pointing moralistic fingers at one another, at calling each other traitors, at turning against each other — and I have determined and committed myself to not do this ever, in my own political career, in my own personal life.
So I’m never going to say to Alexis Tsipras you’re a traitor, to say to my former colleagues, my comrades anything that can be construed as a denunciation — I’m not going to denounce my comrades and my friends.
I have stated my very serious disagreement with what they did.”
With the long history of splits and divisions among progressive, left and republican groups, here in Ireland and further afield, the response of Yanis Varoufakis to the invitation to speak of how ‘betrayed’ he felt, might contain lessons of relevance at a time when a united progressive response is needed to world-wide austerity.