Greek PM carries out cabinet reshuffle, key ministries unchanged

Athens, Nov 5 (IANS) Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reshuffled his cabinet in an effort to pull the debt-laden country from painful austerity and recession to growth.

Outgoing government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassilis late Friday announced on national broadcaster ERT the composition of the new cabinet, about 14 months after the general election which saw SYRIZA, the prime minister’s party, claim a large victory, Xinhua news agency reported.

Key ministries, which hold a crucial role in the implementation of the bailout programme, remained unchanged.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos retains the critical portfolio, leading negotiations with lenders on the next steps.

Hardliners were removed, while new faces, technocrats and close aides to Tsipras, joined the new lineup, local media noted when commenting on the reshuffle.

Ministers who served in the previous cabinet were included in the 48-member strong cabinet. Fifteen new ministers entered, 11 were ousted, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

It remains to be seen whether the team will address more efficiently the major challenges ahead, such as the talks on the debt relief Athens is requesting and the migrant crisis, according to political analysts in Athens.

In recent months, the popularity of the ruling party has declined and the conservatives have taken the lead in opinion surveys, as the government has implemented a new round of painful measures under bailout agreements.

Yannis Dragassakis retain his post as deputy prime minister and Nikos Kotzias kept his post as the country’s foreign minister.

Panos Kammenos, the leader of the Right-wing Independent Greeks, the junior partners in the two- partite ruling coalition, keeps the portfolio of the defence minister.

Former Labour Minister Yorgos Katrougalos was appointed deputy foreign minister in charge of European affairs, while former Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis was named interior minister.

Outgoing interior minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis is the new shipping minister, while economist Dimitris Papadimitriou is the new economy and development minister, replacing Yorgos Stathakis, who will be in charge of the environment and energy sector.

Yannis Mouzalas retains the critical upgraded portfolio of the Ministry of Migration Policy, Elena Kountoura stays as tourism minister, actress Lydia Koniordou is the new culture minister and Nikos Pappas, the former state minister, is the new minister of digital policy, telecommunications and information.

Gerovassilis was appointed minister of administrative reconstruction and Dimitris Tzanakopoulos is the new government spokesperson.

The sworn-in ceremony of the new ministers was scheduled for Saturday.

–IANS

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