Samaras holds rare talks with Bakoyannis as Finance Ministry spot remains open

The coalition is seeking to put the controversial departure of tax chief Haris Theoharis behind it as it moves into the final straight before a cabinet reshuffle that is expected to take place on Monday.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday, sparking speculation that the New Democracy MP might succeed Yannis Stournaras as finance minister. It was the first such meeting between Samaras and Bakoyannis since two years ago, when the latter abandoned her centrist party to join forces with New Democracy ahead of the June 2012 general elections.

Bakoyannis is also in the frame to become Greece’s representative on the European Commission. It is a position that is known to interest her. Sources said that neither job was offered to the former minister during the meeting.

Filling the position at the Finance Ministry remains the key to the imminent reshuffle, which is not expected to be sweeping. Sources said that Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, State Minister Dimitris Stamatis, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and possibly Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis are either expected to keep their current positions or retain a place in the cabinet.

Stournaras is expected to become the next Bank of Greece governor. On Friday, he attacked SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for referring to the finance minister in an interview with French daily Le Monde as being “imposed by Berlin.”

“It is a shame that he attacks the Greek finance minister in an interview with a foreign newspaper using such language,” said Stournaras. “He is consciously doing harm to his country.”

SYRIZA, however, taunted the government over the departure of its general secretary for revenues after Theoharis quit on Thursday while seemingly under pressure from the coalition to do so. “He could not tear up the memorandums, so he tore up Theoharis,” said SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis in reference to a speech Samaras made before the May 25 European Parliament elections, during which he claimed to be “tearing up” Greece’s bailout agreements on a daily basis.

Theoharis insisted on Friday that he had not done anything wrong during his 18 months in the position. “I did my job better than anyone else has during the last few decades and better than anyone could have done under the circumstances.”