Targeted changes to crisis ministries

PM opts for surgical intervention instead of anticipated sweeping cabinet reshuffle

Targeted changes to crisis ministries

The newly appointed ministers of the Greek cabinet were sworn in on Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony at the Presidential Mansion following a government shake-up earlier in the day which however was not as sweeping as predicted.

The reshuffle took place under the shadow cast by the non-acceptance by the former armed forces chief Evangelos Apostolakis of the post of civil protection minister.

The criterion of the reshuffle was to make changes to the two ministries that have been beset by the recent crises, those of Health and Civil Protection. 

This resulted in the departures of Michalis Chrysochoidis and Nikos Hardalias, and Vassilis Kikilias and Vassilis Kontozamanis from the Civil Protection and Health ministries respectively. 

The new look sees Hardalias appointed deputy defense minister, Panagiotis Theodorikakos taking the post of citizens’ protection minister, and Kikilias taking over the tourism portfolio.

Thanasis Plevris will be the new health minister, with his appointed deputy being Assimina (Mina) Gaga, a doctor and head of one of the pneumonology departments at the capital’s Covid referral hospital, Sotiria.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mistotakis was seen to opt for targeted changes, leaving the rest of the cabinet essentially intact so as not to undermine the government’s central aims to boost economic growth and reboot the country the day after the pandemic. 

“The changes reflect the fact that the government has done a very positive job in the last two years,” government sources said.

The job offer to Apostolakis, 64, who had served as defense minister under the SYRIZA government in January-July 2019, drew a scathing response from the leftist party, which said that it would be tantamount to “apostasy.”

In response, government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said it was “really deplorable” that SYRIZA targeted in “such a vulgar way a person who could symbolize national reconciliation.” Tellingly, however, sources noted on Tuesday that Apostolakis had asked the government on Tuesday morning not to announce his name unless there was a cross-party consensus.

In a later statement, SYRIZA described the reshuffle as a “historic fiasco,” saying the cabinet was filled with far-rightists while the PM shrugged off responsibilities over the state’s recent failures.” It added that Mitsotakis “tried to trap” Apostolakis, “announcing his appointment as minister without his consent.”

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