Greece’s new, conservative Cabinet is sworn in
Greece’s new Cabinet was sworn in Tuesday, two days after conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis won early elections on pledges to make the country more business-friendly, cut taxes and negotiate an easing of draconian budget conditions agreed as part of the country’s rescue program.
The new Cabinet relies heavily on experienced politicians who have served in previous governments, but also includes non-politician technocrats considered experts in their fields.
Mitsotakis appointed Christos Staikouras to the crucial post of finance minister. Staikouras is an economist and engineer who had served as deputy minister in a previous government.
The new foreign minister is Nikos Dendias, who held previous Cabinet positions in the ministries of development, defense and public order.
A former public order minister under a previous socialist government, Michalis Chrisohoidis, takes the reins of the ministry once again as one of Mitsotakis’ non-parliamentary appointees.
The new appointees headed to their ministries for official handovers after the swearing-in ceremony at the presidential mansion in central Athens.
Mitsotakis had barely announced his Cabinet selection Monday evening when Greece’s creditors bluntly rejected his calls to ease bailout conditions. Finance ministers from the 19 European Union countries that use the euro currency, who met in Brussels, insisted key targets must be adhered to.
“Commitments are commitments, and if we break them, credibility is the first thing to fall apart. That brings about a lack of confidence and investment,” Eurogroup president Mario Centeno said after the meeting.
Greece was dependent for years on successive international bailouts that provided rescue loans from other European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund in return for deep reforms to the country’s economy that included steep tax hikes and major spending cuts.
Unemployment and poverty levels soared in the country. Greece’s third and final international bailout ended last year, but the country’s economy is still under strict supervision by its creditors.