Greek reshuffle sees PASOK leader Venizelos named foreign minister

Greek reshuffle sees PASOK leader Venizelos named foreign minister

ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Greek reshuffle sees PASOK leader Venizelos named foreign minister

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos leaves the official residence of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, June 24. AP photo

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reshuffled his government on June 24, naming Evangelos Venizelos, who brokered the country's debt cutback last year, as foreign minister and deputy prime minister.

Venizelos, who after negotiating the debt writeoff as finance minister in the previous government, has led the socialist PASOK party but not held a government office since elections last year.

The reshuffle, triggered by the pullout of moderate leftist party Democratic Left last week over a row over the closure of the ERT state broadcaster, sees PASOK increase its number of ministers from two to four.

Samaras's shutdown of ERT on June 11, despite warnings from PASOK and the Democratic Left, triggered widespread protests and concerns that it could bring down the government.

PASOK's decision to stick with Samaras's conservative New Democracy helped relieve acute concerns of an early election that would likely bring to power leftist parties opposed to austerity measures required as part of the EU-IMF bailout. However, the coalition's parliamentary majority has shrunk to just three deputies.

The reshuffle left Yannis Stournaras in place as finance minister, and therefore in charge of talks with the EU, ECB and IMF on the implementation of austerity measures required under the bailout.

Two other former socialist ministers also returned to the government line-up: Michalis Chryssohoides taking up the infrastructure and transport portfolio and Yannis Maniatis getting the enviroment and energy post. PASOK also kept hold of the agriculture ministry.