Yanis Varoufakis

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Yanis Varoufakis leaving Alexis Tsipras' office, Maximos Mansion.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Greek finance minister’s abrasive manner is popular in Greece but has made it more difficult to reach the compromise that Athens needs to avoid bankruptcy.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Yanis Varoufakis became finance minister in the Greek government, but is not a member of the Syriza party.
    • The minister cancelled a trip to London this week and has been keeping a relatively low profile.
    • Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to smooth relations with the German government on a trip to Berlin this week.
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    Audio

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When the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, made his way to Berlin on Monday for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, was notably absent from the delegation.

And the charismatic minister has also avoided the spotlight this week by canceling trips to London and Brussels.

Mr. Varoufakis appears to be taking a backseat in contentious negotiations with Germany, or at least keeping out of the media glare.

“There is a mood within the government which suggests that he should tone down his level of public exposure,” Spyros Economides, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, told Handelsblatt Global Edition.

A sudden celebrity in European political circles, Mr. Varoufakis’s blunt, tough-talking profile has almost overshadowed his country’s plight. Greece is on the brink of leaving the euro zone if it does not secure a deal with its European partners.

Yet media attention been largely focused on the country’s charismatic finance minister.

A scandal over whether he gave the symbolic middle finger to Germany during a talk in 2013, a photo shoot with Paris Match magazine and verbal sparring with his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schäuble, have made the minister himself the story, perhaps complicating attempts by his own government to reach a deal with its European lenders.

The Paris Match article, which featured Mr. Varoufakis at home, playing the piano and drinking wine with his wife on the terrace, even drew criticism from his allies in the radical leftist Syriza party.

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