Athens, September 24, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
The members of the new government were sworn in Wednesday morning at the Presidential Mansion.
The Prime Minister didn’t make any major changes to key posts in order for the same people to be in charge of crucial portfolios and ensure continuity in negotiations with creditors. Alexis Tsipras essentially gave a 2nd chance to his previous cabinet, as a reward for their loyalty.
Ministers were essentially re-shuffled in an attempt to correct mistakes of the past administration. The new cabinet members amount to 46 (three more than the previous government), with only nine changes from the previous cabinet composition.
The new government signifies a shift by Tsipras to the center-left as many ex-PASOK members were included in the cabinet (Ch. Spirtzis, D. Mardas, Th. Tzakri, M. Bolaris, P. Kourouplis).
The three key-figures in the new government will be Euclid Tsakalotos as Finance Minister, Giorgos Chouliarakis as Alternate Finance Minister and Yannis Dragasakis, the deputy Prime Minister. This trio has been ordered to implement the adjustment program and negotiate better terms with creditors on open issues, when possible. The three ministers are well respected by creditors. Dragasakis is a moderate and experienced politician; Chouliarakis is an able technocrat; and Tsakalotos a knowledgeable and soft-spoken.
The appointments of Euclid Tsakalotos and Giorgos Chouliarakis especially were met with a positive reception in the German press too.
Handelsblatt said the Greek Prime Minister appears determined not to waste any more time while Suddeutsche Zeitung called Giorgos Chouliarakis the “anti-Varoufakis”. The newspapers point out that Brussels will be pleased with the appointment as they consider Chouliarakis to be a strong supporter of the Euro.
While the government was not widely different to the previous one, some of the changes decided were revealing of where the new administration will be turning its attention to.
An example is the Special Committee to Combat Corruption that was previously managed by former State Minister Panagiotis Nikoloudis coming under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry. Nikoloudis was surprisingly removed from his post which means Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos and Alternate Minister for Fighting Corruption Dimitris Pappagelopulos will have crucial roles in the government.
Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis said following a meeting with Eu.Tsakalotos that Greece is ahead on key deliverables and expressed optimism that the adjustment program will stay on track.
Euclid Tsakalotos said that amongst the main priorities of the new government is to end recession, the lifting of capital controls, the completion of the recapitalization of banks and to begin negotiating debt relief.
Tsakalotos asked for “time in order for people to understand the policies we will implement” while promising to deliver a program that will run in parallel to the MoU for Administration, corruption, Health, Education and other policy areas.
Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis also spoke to the press. He said “the horizon of our government is not the Memorandum; the MoU is just something we have to do […] We have a difficult course ahead but we have a plan for society that we will implement […] We are confident there is enough time to implement policies benefitting society”.