Wife shields Greece's Varoufakis in restaurant standoff

2015-04-29 16:46
Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives to meet British Finance Minister George Osborne at 11 Downing Street in London. (Matt Dunham, AP)

Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives to meet British Finance Minister George Osborne at 11 Downing Street in London. (Matt Dunham, AP)

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Athens - Greece's combative Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was shielded by his wife Danae after being pelted with glass objects by anarchists at a restaurant in a working-class Athens neighbourhood, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The standoff between the anarchists and the flamboyant minister, who has battling Greece's creditors over the terms of a critical bailout package, took place on Tuesday evening at a restaurant in the Exarchia district.

Journalist Katerina Akrivopoulou, who spoke to Varoufakis after the incident said "around 10 enraged youths stormed in, shouting things along the lines of 'what are you doing here, this is our area'."

Fearing for her husband's safety, his wife threw her arms around him to protect from the objects hurled by the youths, the ministry statement said.

Neither the minister nor his wife were injured.

The ministry described the incident as an "attack" but contended the group was not actually trying to hurt the couple.

Exarchia is an anarchist stronghold that politicians generally avoid.

Writing on her Facebook page, Akrivopoulou, said the group told the 54-year-old motorbike-riding minister "to return to Exarchia when you are no longer a politician".

After leaving the restaurant, Varoufakis said he spoke to the anarchists until tempers calmed.

The maverick former economics professor, who has shaken up the staid world of EU summits by arriving to meetings in rock-star-style leather jackets and untucked shirts, has declined police protection since taking office in January.

His swaggering, abrasive style has annoyed some EU counterparts at meetings to try to end a deadlock over reforms demanded of Athens in return for billions of euros in bailout funds.

European economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici has described Varoufakis as "not always easy" to work with.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras this week reshuffled his negotiating team to try ease the tensions.

Read more on:    greece

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