Venizelos appointed finance minister in reshuffle

Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos has been given the task of dealing with Greece?s economic crisis, as was appointed finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle announced on Friday morning.

Venizelos was the most significant appointment in a reshuffle that saw few new figures brought into the government and relied mostly on removing some ministers and swapping others? portfolios.

Venizelos, a former rival to Prime Minister George Papandreou for the leadership of PASOK, has also been appointed deputy prime minister alongside Theodoros Pangalos.

Giorgos Papaconstontinou, who had been finance minister, has been moved to the Environment and Energy Ministry, meaning that Tina Birbili, one of the non-political figures Papandreou had brought into his initial government, has been ousted.

Papaconstantinou had been touted for the foreign minister?s role but this went to Stavros Lambrinidis, who is an MEP and the vice-president of the Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament.

Lambrinidis has been a longstanding associate of Papandreou and replaces Dimitris Droutsas, another figure that was close to the prime minister. Another of the prime minister?s aides, Yiannis Ragousis was moved from the Interior Ministry to the Transport Ministry

Dimitris Reppas will leave the Transport Ministry to take over at the Administrative Reform and E-Governance Ministry. Haris Kastandis will take over as Interior Minister and will be replaced at the Justice Ministry by Miltiadis Papaioannou.

Venizelos?s departure from the Defense Ministry means that his former deputy, Panos Beglitis, will take over the department.

Two of the government?s most high-profile figures, Michalis Chrysochoidis and Anna Diamontopoulou, remain in their previous posts as regional development and education ministers respectively. However, Chrysochodis’s department will also take on marine affairs, which had been handled by a separate ministry.

One of the victims of the reshuffle was Louka Katseli, who had repeatedly clashed with the finance ministry and the troika when she was labor minister. She has been replaced by Yiannis Koutroumanis.

Andreas Loverdos remains as Health Minister. Christos Papoutsis also retains his post at the Citizens?s Protection Ministry. Pavlos Geroulanos will continue as Culture Minister while Costas Skandalidis stays at the Agricultural Development Ministry.

There was a significant change in terms of the government?s communications strategy as spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, who announced the reshuffle, is being replaced by Elias Mossialos.

Mossialos, a professor of health policy at the London School of Economics, has recently acted as a government adviser and is now the only significant non-political figure in the government.

One feature of Papandreou?s reshuffle has been for the figures from outside of the political world who had participated in his previous governments to be removed from office. A total of nine ministers and deputy ministers have lost their jobs.

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