ESM (European Stability Mechanism) chief Klaus Regling asserted that the period in which Yannis Varoufakis was finance minister cost Greece billions of euros, as Greece was moving in the wrong direction for six months.

Regling, in an interview with Handelsblatt, warns that debt relief measures could go to waste if Greece again veers away from its reform path.

“In no other country that entered a programme were the problems so big and public administration so weak as in Greece. Moreover, when Varoufakis was minister, the country moved in the wrong direction for six months in 2015, and that cost the Greeks billions. For this reason, the adjustment period took eight years and not only three, as in the other countries,” Regling said.

“Greece implemented extensive and often painful structural reforms. Salaries were substantially cut in real terms. That was necessary, because previously they had risen more rapidly than productivity, and the country had lost its competitiveness. Today I am optimistic. If Greece remains on track with reforms, I see a good future for the country in the eurozone,” the ESM chief said.

Without continuing reforms, however, the debt relief package agreed to on 21 June will lose its effectiveness.

“Greece has committed itself to continue on a reform path. Otherwise, some of the recently approved debt relief measures could be rendered useless. Greece knows that it will be under the constant surveillance and evaluation by the markets and investors, as other countries that had a bailout programme. They want to know that their money is safe and secure in the long term,” Regling underlined.

Regling said that Spain and Ireland have the highest growth rates in Europe, because they implemented and decisively took ownership of their reform programmes.