NEWS

Interim cabinet, new PM to be sworn in today

Greece?s new prime minister, Lucas Papademos, and an interim cabinet are due to be sworn in at 2 p.m. today before beginning the job of tackling the economic crisis.

The swearing-in ceremony will trigger the start of a debate in Parliament that will conclude with a confidence vote on Sunday night.

There has been speculation about which ministers the former vice president of the European Central Bank, Papademos, will choose to make up this transitional administration.

The cabinet will include members from New Democracy and the nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) but a number of key posts, where ministers will have to continue to meet strict targets agreed with the EU and the IMF, will remain under the control of PASOK ministers.

It is widely expected that Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will stay in his role and that the ministers of education, transport, health, agriculture and the environment will also keep their posts. It is thought that New Democracy will contribute around four party officials — not MPs — to the new cabinet and that two LAOS deputies will take ministry posts.

?The country is at a crucial crossroads,? said Papademos after accepting his new role on Thursday. ?The course ahead will not be easy but I am confident that the problems can be solved and they will be solved faster, at smaller cost and more efficiently if there is unity, cooperation and a prudent approach.?

The 64-year-old economist, who was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has served as governor of Greece?s central bank, suggested that his economic insights would make up for his lack of political experience.

?I am not a politician but I have exercised economic policy in Greece and Europe,? he said, adding that his appointment was ?a great honor and an even greater responsibility.?

Papademos stressed that the new government would be ?transitional? and that its chief goal would be ?the implementation of the decisions of the October EU summit and the policies connected to that.?

The priority, he said, is for Greece to remain in the eurozone. ?I am convinced that Greece?s continued participation in the eurozone is a guarantee for its stability,? he said.