PM aide quits over adviser hiring

The government was forced into an embarrassing climb-down yesterday over the appointment of one of 20 new advisers to Prime Minister George Papandreou’s office, which also led to one of the premier’s aides resigning. Papandreou’s legal adviser Glykeria Siouti stepped down after it emerged that one of the 20 candidates she was to hire for a position was 25-year-old lawyer Angelos Hasapopoulos, who has only been practicing a year, has not yet finished his postgraduate degree nor completed military service. Siouti, who is also a close associate of State Minister Haris Paboukis, one of Papandreou’s closest aides, announced that she had decided to resign for «reasons of sensitivity» after the news of Hasapopoulos’s appointment was roundly criticized by the media and New Democracy, which deemed him too inexperienced to be working as an adviser to the prime minister. The Proto Thema newspaper, which broke the story on Sunday, carried a picture of Hasapopoulos riding a pony on a fairground carousel that was taken from his page on the Facebook social networking site. The government has dropped its plans to hire Hasapopoulos, it was revealed yesterday. Papandreou has come under heavy criticism for surrounding himself with advisers, especially foreign experts. However, in a statement yesterday, his office said that the law allows for 105 civil servants to be employed in the prime minister’s office but that Papandreou has only hired 72. «It is clear that the number of people employed in the service of the prime minister’s office is proportionally much lower than in other countries of similar size and level of development,» the statement said. The premier’s office also denied press reports that former Italian Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa had accepted payment to become Papandreou’s economic adviser. The 70-year-old, a former president of the IMF’s monetary and finance committee, took up the role at the beginning of August. «Everything has happened and will continue to happen out in the open with respect to the organization of the services supporting the prime minister’s office and their effective operation,» said Papandreou’s office.