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Greek coalition leaders reshuffle cabinet


08:19, June 25, 2013

ATHENS, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Greece's two partite coalition government leaders proceeded with a cabinet reshuffle, a government spokesman announced on Monday after a meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and socialist PASOK party head Evangelos Venizelos.

Venizelos enters the new cabinet as deputy prime minister and foreign minister, while Yannis Stournaras keeps the key portfolio of the debt-laden country's Finance Ministry, said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou who also remains in place.

The shake-up comes after the Democratic Left (DIMAR) party's withdrawal from the government on Friday over a dispute concerning the closure of the state broadcaster ERT.

Regarding other key posts, Dimitris Avramopoulos who served as Foreign Minister over the past year, was appointed Defense Minister, while in his first ministerial appointment Kyriakos Mitsotakis assumes the post of Administration Reform Minister, tasked with overseeing the planned wave of job cuts to the civil service which has sparked fierce reactions.

Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis remains in place, as well as Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyannis.

State Minister Dimitris Stamatis, Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis, Education Minister Costas Arvanitopoulos and Agricultural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaytaris also keep their posts in the new line-up.

Outgoing Defense Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos moved to the Ministry of Culture, while Alternate Interior Minister Charalambos Athanassiou was named Justice Minister.

Yannis Michelakis, former spokesman of the ruling New Democracy party of Samaras, is the new Interior Minister.

Former Shipping Minister Adonis Georgiadis takes over as Health Minister, whereas former Alternate government spokesman Miltiadis Varvitsiotis was named Shipping Minister.

The post of Transport Minister is filled by Michalis Chryssohoidis, who has served in several ministerial posts in the past, while former Deputy Energy Minister Yannis Maniatis was promoted at the ministry's helm.

Pantelis Capsis who has served as government spokesman in the past, was appointed deputy minister in charge of ERT's overhaul.

The television and radio broadcaster's shutdown and the layoffs of its 2,700 employees two weeks ago as part of the austerity and reform drive launched in 2010 in exchange of vital international bailout aid to keep Greece afloat, triggered a political crisis which brought the coalition at the brink of collapse and the country at the brink of snap polls a year after the last general elections.

With the formation of the new 43-member cabinet which is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday, the conservative prime minister and his socialist coalition partner aim to move forward with the implementation of the needed reforms to overcome the debt crisis and restore growth as of 2014, according to forecasts.

After the loss of DIMAR, the two-partite coalition now controls 153 seats in the 300 member strong parliament.

It is expected though that DIMAR and independent deputies will support the new government in the implementation of critical policies to counter Greece's financial woes and reverse deep recession now in its sixth year.

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