By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Greece’s new cabinet was sworn in Tuesday noon and shortly afterwards met for the very first time under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Surrounded by his new cabinet, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said: “Our immediate priority is to return to recovery ahead of time, to defeat unemployment, bring in new investment, avoid new measures and create jobs for young people.”
The Prime Minister said his aim is for the government to see through its four year tenure and that negotiations with the troika have to be completed promptly in order to secure Greece’s next rescue-loan tranche.
Alongside him was Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist Pasok party who was named deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Mr. Venizelos said he was in total agreement with the Prime Minister adding that growth and tackling unemployment are the government’s top priorities.
Venizelos also sent a message to Greece’s troika of lenders, stressing citizens are not in a position to accept any more austerity measures.
Both men know the difficulty of the task ahead. Addressing cabinet members the PM acknowledged ideological and political differences will have to be put aside for the good of the nation. “Stability means better coordination between the parties that support the government,” Samaras said. “Greece has no time to lose.”
Venizelos said the two parties decided to proceed together showing the determination and stability needed in order to implement the national plan of rebuilding the economy and exiting the crisis.
The coalition’s policy agreement has yet to be made public. As the troika prepares to review the government’s austerity policies next week, mass public sector layoffs and the closure of state organizations will have to be pushed through. New Public Administration Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis must sack some 2,000 public sector workers by June 30 and a further 2,000 by the end of the year.
Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) fiercely criticized the reshuffle saying that the new cabinet signaled “the beginning of the end” for the conservative-led administration.
“The new cabinet is tailor-made for the policies of the memorandum and for the government’s plans to complete the political plundering of incomes and the sell-off of public goods,” a party statement read.
With fears of government collapse now out of the picture, the Greek stock market showed signs of recovery closing 1.29 pct higher after losing 9.7 pct last week.