Tag Archives: Greece

RANKED: The world’s national debts, from safest to most risky

CDS map

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Bank of America’s Transforming World Atlas has loads of lovely infographics in it, but one of the most colourful is a map of the world’s riskiest sovereign debt.

The map uses the prices of credit default swaps, which are derivatives that pay out if a borrower defaults.

Sovereign credit default swaps have been used as a type of insurance against sovereign governments not paying back the money they owe. Like any insurance product, the more expensive it is the more likely the event you’re insuring against will happen soon.

Venezuelan debt is by far the most risky, costing twice as much as Greek or Ukrainian debt to insure.

The graphic also shows just how far Spain and Ireland have come. The market thinks their debt is pretty risk free, with lower CDS spreads than Italy or Portugal. The Spanish economy is going through a bit of a revival after suffering a devastating housing crash and unemployment crisis.

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10 of the best European islands … that you’ve probably never heard of

Lyngør Islands, Norway

A far cry from Norway’s jagged western fjord-filled coastline, the Lyngør Islands offer Baltic calm rather than wild Atlantic. Base yourself on the islands of Sandøya or Borøya (where you can park your car) and use the ferries to get around. If ferries are too mainstream, Norwegians rave about kayaking between these tiny islands, so expect to see lots of brightly coloured boats being hefted around by visitors. Kayak rental is available in Tvedestrand, the town at the head of the fjord. Lyngør Island can only be reached by boat: there are no cars, and the main village consists of weathered clapboard wooden houses.

Stay The Tvedestrand 58 holiday house on the island of Boroya, which sleeps up to six, costs from £455 for seven nights.

Getting there Norwegian airlines flies to Oslo from £40 return; it’s then a two-hour drive south.

Mljet, Croatia

Beach Stara Baska - island Krk, Croatia

Odysseus was allegedly held captive here, for seven years, by the nymph Calypso, but it can’t really have been all that bad. One of Croatia’s southernmost islands, it’s best known for exceptional local produce and wild beauty. There are great hiking opportunities around the two saltwater lakes in Mljet national park and it is possible to hire a sailing boat to reach the 12th-century Benedictine monastery on Melita Island. Scramble around the island’s shady trails and swim in some of the clearest water in the Adriatic at Blace Bay. Choose a bottle of local red for your sundowner – Dingac and Postup are produced on the island – and try the plates of raw mussels drizzled with lemon juice, a local speciality.

Stay There’s only one hotel and it’s right on the coast – the three-star Odisej Mljet, with doubles from £33 B&B.

Getting there It’s a 90-minute ferry from Dubrovnik to the bay of Sobra on Mljet on Jadrolinjia lines.

Aegina, Greece

The hillside village of Vagia on Aegina, Greece

Come for the seafood, stay for the peace. Aegina, only one hour by ferry from Athens, is a great base during a summer weekend break. The heat in the city can be harsh; escape the crowds to spend evenings snorkelling the coast and devouring cuttlefish in wine sauce at Nontas – a beachside taverna close enough to the water to see your dinner being caught by local fishermen. As for hiking, the island’s trails lead you past ruined churches, meadows of wildflowers, and craggy hillsides.

Stay Clean, bright, and sun-drenched rooms at the Marini Luxury Apartments come with balconies and panoramic views over the sea, doubles from £66.

Getting there Metro from Athens centre to Piraeus port, an hour’s hydrofoil journey (£7) to Aegina.

Fehmarn, Germany

Dike Path, Sulsdorfer Wiek with Sun, Summer, Orth, Baltic Island of Fehmarn, Germany

Fehmarn, an island just off Germany’s Baltic coastline, catches the rays in spades while adventure junkies can kitesurf the days away (it plays host to various kite surfing competitions every year). Those after a more gentle ramble should pack their boots for Fehmarn’s portion of the Via Scandinavia: a walking route from Lübeck that runs through Germany and Poland, and on to Norway. Fehmarn’s scenery makes it unique among Germany’s Baltic islands. Badwelt Fehmare is a spa complex on the island and many visitors make the journey to enjoy seaweed wraps (taken from the shore) and natural saltwater scrubs.

Stay Close to the old town and a sandy beach, Apartments mit Flair has accommodation from £42 a night.

Getting there From Hamburg it’s a 90-minute drive to Burg, the historical capital of Fehmarn.

Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, Ireland

Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands, Ireland.

This is an island of ancient language and mythology where the white beaches stretch out into the Atlantic. The smallest island in the Aran archipelago, Inis Oírr (pronounced Inisheer) only got permanent electricity in 1997. The Inis Oírr trail threads through fields carpeted with wildflowers; gentian, cranesbill and ladies mantle dust your ankles as you pace around the island under the shadow of O’Brien’s ruined 14th-century castle. Recuperate at Ostan Inis Oírr with a pint of Guinness and live music, which gets visitors up for a dance.

Stay South Aran House, with doubles from £60 B&B, is a guesthouse with free Wi-Fi, four en suite rooms and underfloor heating. The attached cooking school suggests that guests are in for a treat at breakfast.

Getting there Ferry from Ros a’Mhil costs £19, adult return, with Aran Island Ferries.

Belle-Île en Mer, Brittany, France

The port of Le Palais on Belle-Île-en-Mer.

An island that lives up to its name, its dramatic coastline and green interior inspired 19th-century authors and artists, most famously Flaubert and Monet. Now it draws holidaymakers in their droves in August, but outside of this short peak season its 60 beaches are gloriously crowd-free; and even in August your fellow tourists are unlikely to be Brits, who prefer chichi Île de Ré further south over its wilder Atlantic cousin. While Belle-Île has a handful of low-key attractions, including Sarah Bernhardt’s house, now a museum, and the lighthouse at Bangor, the main draw is the natural environment. In August beach lovers and walkers are joined on the island by opera buffs who come for the popular classical music festival Lyrique en Mer. Read more on the island in our Brittany article.

Stay Hotel Le Clos Fleuri has doubles from £53.

Getting there Ferries leave from Qubieron, 14km away.

Cíes islands, Galicia, Spain

Rodas beach on Las Islas Cíes

Despite this paper naming Rodas beach on Las Islas Cíes one of the best beaches in the world, these islands remain an off-the-beaten-track gem, thanks to a strict limit of 2,200 tourists a day. Their nickname – the Maldives or Seychelles of Spain – gives a clear indication of what to expect: gorgeous white beaches, turquoise waters … in other words, your average untouched paradise. The three islands (Monteagudo, San Martiño and Faro) opposite the town of Vigo on the Galician coast form part of the Islas Atlánticas national park. This means its wildlife, including colonies of marine birds and rich marine life – which can be explored by scuba divers (with a permit) – is protected.

Stay The only accommodation is a campsite – Camping de las Islas Cíes – with 800 places on Faro, which opens in Easter week, and on subsequent weekends until June, and then regularly between June and September. From £5 adults, £4 kids; £50 to hire a double tent.

Getting there A ferry service from the harbours of Vigo, Cangas and Baiona starts in Easter week and runs weekends and then everyday between the beginning of June and the end of September.

Hiiumaa, Estonia

Tahkuna Lighthouse on Hiiumaa.

The smell of nature hangs heavy on Hiiumaa: from white sand beaches slightly damp after a rainfall, and seaweed sweetly fermenting at one end of the beach. The second largest island in Estonia, this is the place to come if you have a book to write or pictures to paint. There’s not much to do other than tramp along the coastal paths and admire centuries-old Baltic-style lighthouses. For history buffs, there’s an old Soviet bunker to explore, but mostly people come here to feel the sand between their toes and clear their heads. Thanks to the island’s microclimate, Hiiumaa is a lot warmer than Estonia’s mainland, which makes exploring the town of Kardia’s wooden houses and relaxing in Roograhu harbour’s floating sauna even more appealing.

Stay Kassari Puhkekeskus, doubles from £50, has bicycles to rent and a large sauna.

Getting there It’s a 35-minute flight from Tallinn or half-hour ferry ride from Rohuküla, details for both at hiiumaa.ee

Samothrace, Greece

DDR639 Doric Hieron temple, Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Oros Fengari (Mount Moon), Samothrace island. Northern Aegean Sea, Greece

The drums beat late into the night and oil torches flare at one of Samothrace’s many beach parties. Eyes closed, the smell of bonfires and tannic red wine transport you back to when life was dictated by the Temple of the Winged Nike, now a crumbling ruin. Its many repeat visitors love the unaffected nature of this north Aegean island. As well as a solid collection of hiking paths, a bucolic waterfall trail, and sweeping deserted beaches, the island’s hot springs and hillside thermal pools only add to the sense of otherworldliness.

Stay The Archondissa Boutique Beach Aparthotel is secluded and just 20 metres from the beach. Each room has a sizeable balcony and terrace, studios from £40.

Getting there A Saos ferry from Alexandroupoli (on the mainland) takes three hours. Thessaloniki is six hours including drive and ferry.

Margaret Island, Budapest, Hungary

Margaret Island in Budapest Hungary

Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest, spends winter shrouded in mist; come summer the island is an oasis in the midst the city. Encircled by a 5km asphalt running track and jetties from which to launch small boats (and bodies – some of the swimmers here are hardy folk), the illusion of an island holiday is enhanced by two thermal spa complexes. Both cost less than £10 for the day, and, after you’ve soaked, take a romantic walk around the island to visit the ruins of the 13th-century nunnery. At sunset grab an ice-cream and sit down to watch the fountains dance in time to the music.

Stay The Danubias Grand Hotel Margritsziget has doubles from £68.

Getting there The island is a five-minute walk across the bridge from Budapest’s district IV.

The Dirty Dozen: 12 people who ruined Greece

As negotiations inch along between the Syriza government and Greece’s international creditors, the blame for the nation’s looming financial collapse would seem to rest entirely on the shoulders of Prime Minister Alex Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. But not really: History provides ample evidence that a long line of leaders, from Winston Churchill to Constantine II, helped make Greece the economic basket case it is today.

Here are some of the guiltiest culprits:
Konstantis and Georgios Mavromichalis (died 1831)

Konstantinos_Mavromichalis copy

When Greek-born Ioannis Kapodistrias was appointed independent Greece’s first governor in 1827, little did he realize that the job would be tougher than his former post as Russia’s foreign minister. Accustomed to working on the diplomatic stage, Kapodistrias soon found that his vision of a modern Greek state was not shared by everyone, especially the provincial elites.In 1831, he was stabbed in the stomach and shot in the head as he made his way to church by Konstantis and Georgios Mavromichalis. The killing was revenge for Kapodistrias’s jailing of their respective father and brother, the warlord Petrobey Mavromichalis. His assassination plunged Greece into chaos, leading the European powers to impose a foreign king, the young Bavarian prince Otto, on the young country, giving it a first taste of German rule.

Winston Churchill (1874–1965)

Churchill

In 1944, Greece’s leftist partisan movement managed to see the backs of the German army after three and a half years of brutal wartime occupation. Unbeknownst of them, British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had secretly divvied up eastern Europe and the Balkans on a piece of paper, placing Greece within Britain’s sphere of influence. While communist leaders also bear responsibility, Churchill’s determination to restore the unpopular Greek monarchy, as well as his determination to exclude former communist partisans from the new Greek army, pushed Greece further down its calamitous path to civil war.

Constantine II (1940–)

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Since Greece became a parliamentary republic in 1974, its former king has had no role in political or public life, to almost universal relief. Assuming the throne at the age of 23, Constantine caused enough damage from 1964 to 1967. Soon, he found himself at loggerheads with the centrist government, led by George Papandreou, who eventually resigned. Constantine then sought to create amenable governments using centrist party defectors, which fuelled a constitutional crisis and political instability that ultimately led to the 1967 military coup.

Georgios Papadopoulos (1919–1999)

George Papadopoulos

The weak state of Greek democracy was dealt a major blow in 1967 when a group of mid-level army officers, led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, staged a successful coup d’état. Seven years of dictatorship followed, during which Papadopoulos himself was deposed in a coup by hardliners. While Papadopoulos would later die in prison, his asinine medical metaphors—he often likened himself to a doctor trying to cure a sick patient (Greece)—were redeployed by advocates of taking a tough line on Greece when crisis struck in 2009.

Andreas Papandreou (1919–1996)

Andreas Papandreou

Greece’s longest serving prime minister since the restoration of democracy in 1974, Andreas Papandreou left an indelible mark on Greek politics and its economy. Over the course of his decade in office (1981–89, 1993–96), the Harvard-trained economist introduced long overdue social and progressive reforms and stacked the civil service with his socialist Pasok party supporters. While he elevated many Greeks to the middle class, that success came at the heavy cost of drastically increasing the budget deficit and public debt levels. As corruption scandals mounted in the late 1980s, Papandreou created a sideshow by ditching his wife in favor of his airhostess mistress.

Kostas Karamanlis (1956–)

Supporters Rally For Greek New Democracy Party

Like many Greek prime ministers, Kostas Karamanlis became leader of the county largely on the strength of his surname – his uncle was prime minister and president at various stages from 1955 to 1995 – and because he promised to  “re-establish” the state. But in his five year tenure (2004–2009), few reforms were enacted, and the government lost control of Greece’s public finances. Had Karamanlis spent less time in front of his Playstation, as is widely rumored, maybe things could have been better. The rocketing budget deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio, which were continuously revised upward during and after his rule, paved the way for the next government to ask for a bailout.

George Papandreou (1952–)

Merkel Holds Talks With Papandreou

Prime minister like his father and grandfather before him, George Papandreou was elected in October 2009 using the vote-catching slogan “there is money,” despite being aware of the county’s dire economic situation. Unable to manage the ensuing fiscal crisis, Papandreou requested a €110 billion bailout deal from European Union and International Monetary Fund six months later. To the disbelief of most Greeks, the oblivious former leader attempted a political comeback in the 2015 election, in which he campaigned on an anti-austerity programme.

Akis Tsoschatzopoulos (1939–)

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Greece would be in a far worse place today had former interior minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos been successful in his bid to become prime minister in 1996. Luckily, he only came within six votes of replacing Andreas Papandreou as leader of the socialist Pasok party. In 2013, a court sentenced Tsochatzopoulos, now 75, to life imprisonment for pocketing €55 million in kickbacks from military procurements from 1996 to 2001, when he was defense minister. His wife, ex-wife, daughter, cousin, and business associates were all implicated in the scandal, most of whom were also jailed.

Greek oligarchs

Luxury expediton motor yatch "Luna" in Bodrum

With legacies extending back decades in cases, Greece’s oligarchs have emerged relatively unscathed from the Greek crisis and continue to control vast wealth, which is largely inherited but also derives from continued interests in shipping, communications, banking, construction and public works. This coterie of powerful Greek businessmen used political connections with former conservative and socialist governments to win contracts and restrict the Greek market. They also own and exert editorial control over most, if not all, of the privately-held media companies, in a country where public broadcasting remains largely under state control. The new Syriza-led government has promised to rein in the oligarchs, but some things are easier said than done.

Petros Kostopoulos (1954–)

Petros Kostopoulos

Businessman and flamboyant publisher Petros Kostopoulos gained fame during the media boom years in the 1990s. He introduced a series of highly popular lifestyle magazines to Athens that sought to break taboos and emulate urban fashions from more affluent western countries. The underlying message in his publications and editorials was one of unbridled consumerism. Cue the multiple credit cards, Cayenne Porsches, skiing holidays, extravagant home loans, and private swimming pools. All these status symbols became more attainable after Greece, one of the poorest countries in the European Union, adopted the euro in 2001, which gave its banks easier access to cheap money.

Nikos Michaloliakos (1957–)

Four MPs From The Far-Right Golden Dawn Party In Court

Relatively unknown until a few years ago, Nikos Michaloliakos and his neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have capitalized on the Greek crisis to propel them to seats in the Greek and European parliaments. Appearing immune from the police or the justice system, Golden Dawn gangs patrolled inner-city streets, intimidating and sometimes beating migrants and political opponents. Only after a Golden Dawn supporter fatally stabbed the anti-fascist singer Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 did the state react by jailing Michaloliakos and several other Golden Dawn leaders, who will soon go on trial on charges of forming and running a criminal organization.

Troika

A protester shouts slogans during a rally against the government's decision to ask for an economic aid package in Athens

The troika – made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund – bears a fair share of the blame for Greece’s current state. The troika’s programs are based on over-optimistic growth projections, which have led to a number of revisions to Greece’s debt sustainability. Fiscal austerity has imposed a huge social cost upon the Greek people, pushing people out of work and into poverty, and leaving hundreds of thousands without access to public healthcare.

The Manual’s top 5 Destinations for 2016

Yucatan, Mexico

1. Yucatan, Mexico

The ongoing fascination with this part of the world looks set to continue well into 2015. This year, consider the Yucatán Peninsula in the South East of the country. Boasting breathtaking Maya ruins, some of the most heavenly stretches of beach you’ll ever see and vibrant culture by the bucket load, this is a great destination for those looking to camp out for a few weeks in a place that has it all. Don’t leave without exploring the rainbow-coloured coral reefs and visiting Merida market, for a taste bud-tingling insight into the phenomenal local cuisine.

Santorini, Greece

2. Santorini, Greece

Note – the above image of Santorini IS real. It’s actually that dreamy. The crescent-shaped island is the perfect location for a luxury holiday, with its blue-domed roofs, black-sand beaches and wondrous sunsets over a giant sea-filled Caldera. Visit Fira, the insanely picturesque cliff top town and book at least one night in Grace Santorini, for impeccable Cycladic interiors and a plunge pool looking out over the Aegean Sea. Heaven, in a nutshell.

Panama, Central America

3. Panama, Central America

Ever since we featured the Ace Hotel’s brilliant American Trade Hotel situated in the heart of the city, we have been increasingly fascinated by Panama. Razor-sharp gentrification aside, this tropical country is resplendent with natural wonders so adventure is inevitable. Explore the dizzying cloud forests of Chiriquí, soak up the Caribbean vibes on the Northern shores and surf gigantic Pacific swells in the South. This is the destination for intrepid adventurers.

Montenegro, Southeastern Europe

4. Montenegro, Southeastern Europe

While nearby Croatia has been buzzing for a few years now, our attention is firmly on Montenegro for 2015. A turbulent history has left a fascinating mish-mash culture fusing Roman, Catholic and Muslim influences. Nature lovers will rejoice over the gloriously unspoiled landscape; beautiful lakes, calm seas and the spectacular black mountains are bound to coax even the most unfit of visitors on a gentle hike. If you’re on a more generous budget, a stay at the Aman Sveti Stefan is a must. The entire island of Sveti Stefan, a former fishing village in the 14th Century, has been given over to this magical, peaceful hotel. A UNESCO heritage site in its entirety, every room, suite and cottage is to die for. Ultimately, if you’re craving leisurely exploration by day and slow summer evenings spent sipping local wine, Montenegro is the place.

Pilsen, Czech Republic

5. Pilsen, Czech Republic

Culture vultures should head to Pilsen, the capital of West Bohemia. Nominated as the official capital of culture for 2015, a yearlong schedule of over 600 concerts, exhibitions, artistic interventions and theatre productions is set to revive the city unlike ever before. A dizzying climb to the top of the 13th-century Gothic church, St Bartholomew, will provide a welcome break from the arts…as well as a few pints of the outstanding beer. Pilsen is infamous for developing the very first lager back in the mid-19th century. These days, the city is known for making some of the best beer in the world – apparently something to do with the water. Hardcore enthusiasts can take a tour of thePilsner Urquell Brewery to see where the magic happens. All in all, this city is fast emerging as a favourite for stag weekends and guy time.

Washington guided Greece in bailout talks, envoy reveals

Washington had advised the previous SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government not to clash head-on with Germany and to show a willingness for reform in the weeks and months leading up to the July 13 agreement on a third bailout between Greece and its lenders.

A secret telegram sent to Athens by Greece’s Ambassador to the US, Christos Panagopoulos, on July 16 synopsized the relations between the two countries over the previous months. The copy seen by Kathimerini suggests that Washington showed a keen interest in keeping Greece in the eurozone and had consistently provided advice on how the government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should handle relations with the rest of the eurozone.

Washington, for instance, advised Athens to avoid verbal attacks on the German government and to try to create a broad alliance including countries like the UK, France, Italy and Austria. The US made it clear that the coalition would have to convince these countries that it was serious about implementing reforms if they were to then, in turn, offer their support.

Panagopoulos also explains in his note that Washington’s strategy was to stress the geopolitical importance of keeping Greece in the single currency and the need for the eurozone to agree a further reduction of Greek debt. The Greek ambassador suggests that the US government also encouraged the International Monetary Fund to be vocal on the issue of debt relief.

Sources also told Kathimerini that it was Washington who emphasized the geopolitical angle to the Greek issue through NATO. On June 19 NATO deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said a Greek exit would “indeed have repercussions” for the alliance. He told a security conference in Bratislava that NATO was “worried about” a Grexit. His comments came just after Greece and Russia agreed a pipeline deal.

Panagopoulos describes in his telegram that there was frequent and extensive contact between Athens and Washington, including officials from the Treasury and the State Department, during the protracted negotiations that led to the signing of the third bailout in Brussels.

Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger ‘Plan B’ for Greece, awaits treason charges

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis claims he was authorised by Alexis Tsipras to look into a parallel payment system

A secret cell at the Greek finance ministry hacked into government computers and drew up elaborate plans for a system of parallel payments that could be switched from euros to the drachma at the “flick of a button” .

The revelations have caused a political storm in Greece and confirm just how close the country came to drastic measures before premier Alexis Tsipras gave in to demands from Europe’s creditor powers, acknowledging that his own cabinet would not support such a dangerous confrontation.

Yanis Varoufakis, the former finance minister , told a group of investors in London that a five-man team under his control had been working for months on a contingency plan to create euro liquidity if the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to the Greek financial system, as it in fact did after talks broke down and Syriza called a referendum.

The transcripts were leaked to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. The telephone call took place a week after he stepped down as finance minister.

“The prime minister, before we won the election in January, had given me the green light to come up with a Plan B. And I assembled a very able team, a small team as it had to be because that had to be kept completely under wraps for obvious reasons,” he said.

Mr Varoufakis recruited a technology specialist from Columbia University to help handle the logistics. Faced with a wall of obstacles, the expert broke into the software systems of the tax office – then under the control of the EU-IMF ‘Troika’ – in order to obtain the reserve accounts and file numbers of every taxpayer.

“We decided to hack into my ministry’s own software programme,” he said.

The revelations were made to a group of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and life insurers – many from Asia – hosted as part of a “Greek day” on July 16 by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF).

Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that the quotes were accurate but some reports in the Greek press had been twisted, making it look as if he had been plotting a return to the drachma from the start.

“The context of all this is that they want to present me as a rogue finance minister, and have me indicted for treason. It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history,” he said.

Yanis Varoufakis (right), Greece’s former finance minister, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

“It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe,” he said.

The goal of the computer hacking was to enable the finance ministry to make digital transfers at “the touch of a button”. The payments would be ‘IOUs’ based on an experiment by California after the Lehman banking crisis.

A parallel banking system of this kind would allow the government to create euro liquidity and circumvent what Syriza called “financial strangulation” by the ECB.

“This was very well developed. Very soon we could have extended it, using apps on smartphones, and it could become a functioning parallel system. Of course this would be euro denominated but at the drop of a hat it could be converted to a new drachma,” he said.

AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

Mr Varoufakis claimed the cloak and dagger methods were necessary since the Troika had taken charge of the public revenue office within the finance ministry. “It’s like the Inland Revenue in the UK being controlled by Brussels. I am sure as you are hearing these words your hair is standing on end,” he said in the leaked transcripts.

Mr Varoufakis said any request for permission would have tipped off the Troika immediately that he was planning a counter-attack. He was ready to activate the mechanism the moment he received a “green light” from the prime minister, but the permission never came.

AFP PHOTO / Angelos Tzortzinis

“I always told Tsipras that it will not be plain sailing but this is the price you have to pay for liberty,” he told the Telegraph .

“But when the time came he realised that it was just too difficult. I don’t know when he reached that decision. I only learned explicitly on the night of the referendum, and that is why I offered to resign,” he said. Mr Varoufakis wanted to seize on the momentum of a landslide victory in the vote but was overruled.

He insisted that his purpose had always been to go on the legal and financial offensive within the eurozone – placing Greece’s eurozone creditors in a position where they would be acting outside EU treaty law if they forced Grexit – but nevertheless suggested Syriza did have a mandate to contemplate more radical steps if all else failed.

“I think the Greek people had authorised us to pursue energetically and vigorously that negotiation to the point of saying that if we can’t have a viable agreement, then we should consider getting out,” he said in the tape.

“[German finance minister Wolfgang] Schauble believes that the eurozone is not sustainable as it is. He believes there has to be some fiscal transfers, some degree of political union. He believes that for that political union to work without federation, without the legitimacy that a properly elected federal parliament can render, can bestow upon an executive, it will have to be done in a very disciplinary way.

“And he said explicitly to me that a Grexit is going to equip him with sufficient terrorising power in order to impose upon the French that which Paris has been resisting: a degree of transfer of budget-making powers from Paris to Brussels.”

Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that Mr Schauble had made up his mind that Greece must be ejected from the euro, and is merely biding his time, knowing that the latest bail-out plan is doomed to failure.

“Everybody knows the International Monetary Fund does not want to take part in a new programme but Schauble is insisting that it does as a condition for new loans. I have a strong suspicion that there will be no deal on August 20,” he said.

He said the EU authorities may have to dip further into the European Commission’s stabilisation fund (EFSM), drawing Britain deeper into the controversy since it is a contributor.

By the end of the year it will be clear that tax revenues are falling badly short of targets – he said – and the Greek public ratio will be shooting up towards 210pc of GDP.

“Schauble will then say it is yet another failure. He is just stringing us along. He has not given up his plan to push Greece out of the euro,” he said.

These 3 headlines from today’s Greek press give you an idea of just how devastating the crisis has been

Let’s take a break from the blow-by-blow coverage of negotiations between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his creditors at the EU and the IMF.

Presented without further comment, are three headlines from today’s news as published by Ekathimerini, a local service that publishes in English.

Blame who you want for the debt crisis, but here’s the human cost.

Those kids didn’t run up that debt:

Yep. They’re running out of food in some places:

The number of small and medium-sized business in Greece has dropped by 27% since 2008.

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