The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has been invited to Berlin during a new low in Greco-German relations, after the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, was forced to deny “giving the finger” to Germany in a two-year-old YouTube video.
The German leader, Angela Merkel, invited Tsipras for his first visit to Berlin since he came to power in January on an anti-austerity platform that has led to clashes with Greece’s creditors, including Germany.
This is soon after Varoufakis, appearing via videolink on Günther Jauch, one of Germany’s most-watched political discussion programmes on the state TV channel ARD, was shown a video of himself criticising the Greek government for accepting the European Union’s bailout conditions.
In the video, filmed at a conference in Zagreb in May 2013, the finance minister said in English: “Greece should simply announce that it is defaulting, just like Argentina did, within the euro in January 2010, and stick the finger to Germany” – at which point he appeared to raise his middle finger – “and say, ‘Well, you can now solve this problem by yourself’.”
Jauch then asked Varoufakis, who could be seen shaking his head in the background: “The middle finger for Germany, Mr Minister? The Germans pay the most and are criticised the most for it. How does that go together?”
Varoufakis claimed the video had been doctored, and that he had “never given the finger ever”. But Alessandro Del Prete, who uploaded the six-minute video from which the clip was taken, tweeted later on Sunday to deny that the video had been altered.