Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proceeded on Friday with a long-awaited government reshuffle, moving out some ministers who have opposed bailout reforms and bringing some new blood into the administration.
Tsipras chose to keep most of the ministers closely involved in bailout talks with representatives of Greece’s international creditors, including Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, in the cabinet. Tsakalotos kept his post. Giorgos Stathakis was moved from economy minister to energy minister, replacing Panos Skourletis, who had expressed opposition to the full privatization of the Public Power Corporation which Greece’s creditors have pressed for.
Skourletis assumed the post of interior minister, taking over from Panayiotis Kouroublis, who took over the Shipping Ministry from Theodoros Dritsas, who had also expressed reservations about certain privatizations.
The top job at the Labor Ministry was transferred from Giorgos Katrougalos to his aide Effie Achtsioglou, who has experience in negotiations with Greece’s international creditors.
Another new name is that of Dimitris Papadimitriou, an economist who assumes the helm of the Economy Ministry.
The Justice Ministry’s top job went to Stavros Kontonis, who replaces Nikos Paraskevopoulos.
State Minister Nikos Pappas, who oversaw the government’s controversial TV license auction, was given the new Ministry for Digital Policy and is to retain his responsibility for issues relating to the media.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Nikos Filis, who has clashed repeatedly with Archbishop Ieronymos on a range of issues, was removed from the government.
Others who kept key cabinet posts included Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas. The ministries of the latter two were made autonomous.
Another new ministry is for administrative reform, which is to be headed by outgoing government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili. She is replaced as spokesperson by Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, a close aide of Tsipras.
Tsipras had been keen to shake up his cabinet for a while for several reasons: to boost the flagging popularity of leftist SYRIZA, to distract public attention from the fiasco that followed the government’s controversial auction for television licenses, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Council of State, and to convince the country’s creditors that his administration is committed to economic reforms so that they launch talks on debt relief.
The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in on Saturday.