Yanis Varoufakis said Greece won’t “extend and pretend” that it can pay its debts, vowing to quit as finance minister if voters don’t support him in Sunday’s referendum.
With banks shuttered and Greece’s economy hobbled by capital controls, Varoufakis said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Athens that he would “rather cut my arm off” than sign a deal that fails to restructure Greece’s debt. The 54-year-old economics professor said he “will not” continue in his post if Greece endorses austerity in the plebiscite.
The minister’s comments illustrate the gulf between Greece’s government, which swept into office on a wave of discontent about budget cuts, and the creditors who are threatening to push it out of the euro.
European governments led by Germany have condemned last weekend’s decision by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to pull out of talks and call a snap referendum on the conditions for financial aid. Polls suggest it’s too close to call.