Maverick Greek economist Varoufakis in Paris airport row

Leader of MeRA25 party Yanis Varoufakis addresses supporters during a pre-election rally in Athens July 2, 2019. — Reuters pic
Leader of MeRA25 party Yanis Varoufakis addresses supporters during a pre-election rally in Athens July 2, 2019. — Reuters pic

ATHENS, July 14 — Maverick Greek economist and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis today accused French police of “violent” behaviour over a passport check at Paris’ main airport.

Varoufakis told AFP he had just landed at Charles de Gaulle airport on a flight from Athens yesterday when a police officer standing near the plane ramp asked to see his passport.

Varoufakis said he complied, but claims the officer then stuck his elbows out as he tried to pass.

“The moment our elbows touched, he reacted violently,” the economist said.

“(He) manhandled me, using physical violence,” Varoufakis told AFP, adding that the officer pushed him, grabbed his passport and told him to stand against the wall.

According to a source with knowledge of the incident, a frontier police officer had been sent to check passports just outside the aircraft for passengers who boarded the Aegean Airlines flight in Athens, after it originally took off from Cairo.

The source said Varoufakis had tried to “barge” through and “adopted a threatening attitude”.

In a video of the scene, apparently taken by a passenger and released by Spanish media group Prensa Iberica, Varoufakis tells the officer: “You are a disgrace to the French nation... you blocked my way and then pushed me.”

“I am not following you... I do not trust you. You are violent, and you are rude. I want to speak to a superior officer,” he says, irately pacing up and down the corridor.

“You are a problematic member of the police force. A disgrace to your nation. So, bring somebody else here,” he says.

Two additional superior officers had to be summoned before Varoufakis’ passport was eventually returned.

“I am formally requesting a formal apology from the French police,” he said.

One of the officers said he also plans to lodge a complaint against Varoufakis.

A former finance minister under leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras in 2015, Varoufakis last week became a member of Greece’s parliament, one of nine lawmakers elected by his anti-austerity MeRA25 party in general elections. — AFP

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