The outgoing EU Council chief boasted that he forced the two European leaders to stay in the room until they could come to an agreement, claiming he was responsible for “saving” the meltdown. The shocking revelation comes almost a fortnight before he vacates his seat to make way for the former Belgian prime minister Charles Michel on December 1.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the College of Europe in Bruges, Mr Tusk said “on that fateful night” of July 12, 2015, the German chancellor and Greek president were “on the verge of walking out on each other”.
“At four o’clock in the morning, I closed the door and told them: ‘Sorry, but there is no way you’re leaving this room until you agree.’
“Four hours later I announced our ‘aGreekment’.
“The Eurozone was saved and today Greece is one of the more promising economies of the Union.”
Mr Tusk was referencing the crisis talks in the summer of 2015 when EU leaders called an emergency summit to discuss a third bailout agreement to tackle the Greek economic crisis.
The Greek government had turned to the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help with their crippling debt following the 2008 financial crash.
Mr Tsipras had found himself with his back against the wall – forced to make the excruciating decision between the two evils of leaving the eurozone or accepting even more harsh austerity measures from Brussels.
He finally capitulated to the EU’s conditions in return for a £40billion rescue package for the debt-stricken nation.
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“Serving the unity of the EU has also sometimes meant opposing the will and intentions of the most powerful.”
Mr Tusk is clearly relishing the chance to speak less diplomatically in the run-up to his departure, saying he “envied” former Speaker of the Commons John Bercow because he could “finally, honestly say what he thinks about Brexit”.
He admitted: “I want to tell you something I wouldn’t have dared to say a few months ago, as I could be fired for being too frank.
“It is simply too late to impeach Donald, at least the European one.”