NEWS

PM forms team to tackle crisis

The new, small team that will form the government’s driving force following the Cabinet reshuffle was revealed yesterday, as sources said the shake-up has left some ministers unsure what their duties are. Prime Minister George Papandreou had wanted to appoint his trusted aide, and interior minister, Yiannis Ragousis to head a core team of ministers that would be responsible for discussing, suggesting and implementing the government’s policy. The idea of a small, trusted group of advisers was born of the government’s failure during its first 11 months in power to effectively coordinate policies between various ministries and to ensure that targets were met. It was confirmed that this tight-knit group has been formed and that it held its first meeting yesterday. Under the chairmanship of Papandreou, Ragousis, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, Interior Ministry general secretary Dimitris Stefanou and head of PASOK’s parliamentary group Regina Vartzeli met on the top floor of the Interior Ministry to discuss government policy. Among the group’s key tasks is to make sure Greece is keeping to the commitments it has made in the memorandum it signed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. It appears that the prime minister’s intention is that the team should meet daily to discuss the prevailing issues of the day. Two notable omissions from the team are Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who had initially been given the task of overseeing ministers’ progress, and State Minister Haris Paboukis, a longstanding aide of Papandreou’s. Petalotis assured journalists that there is no danger of a falling-out with Pangalos as «the deputy minister already has a very serious role.» Paboukis, meanwhile, has been given the task of attracting investments to Greece. However, there is some confusion over where this leaves the new Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, as this would normally fall under his remit. The lack of clarity on this issue is symptomatic of the fallout from the reshuffle. Sources said that as the new ministers head up to the Thessaloniki International Fair, where Papandreou will set out his government’s economic policy on Saturday, few of them are sure of their exact duties. «Don’t bother asking me specific questions,» Petalotis told journalists. «The ministers’ responsibilities will be formalized and announced soon.»