Greece's Varoufakis Tells Charlie Hebdo Europe Risks Right-Wing Backlash

Yanis Varoufakis
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in Athens, January 27, 2015. Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Racists and nationalists will be the only ones to benefit if European leaders "shoot down" Greece's new anti-austerity government, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has told France's Charlie Hebdo newspaper.

In an interview published on Wednesday - the second edition since the satirical weekly was attacked by Islamist gunmen - the leftist academic says European government's will suffer if governments like his are "asphyxiated."

"This is what I tell my counterparts: if you think it is in your interest to shoot down progressive governments like ours, just a few days after our election, then you should fear the worst," he said.

Greece's Syriza party - a coalition of leftist groups vehemently opposed to austerity measures imposed as part of a European Union/International Monetary Fund debt bailout - was elected to power in Athens in January.

It secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue from euro zone partners this week, but only after it was forced to back down on some of the promises it made during the campaign to alleviate social distress.

Charlie Hebdo, some of whose staff was murdered in an attack by Islamist gunmen in January, also published an article headlined "Syriza is the future of Europe."

While the weekly did not attract the same around-the-block early morning queues in front of kiosks than the first edition after the attack, the second edition was published at 2.5 million copies, well up from 60,000 before the attack.

Seventeen people died in three attacks in January by two groups of gunmen, attracting worldwide attention and support for freedom of the press as well as sometimes violent protests by those offended by the weekly's anti-religious stance.