ATHENS, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- A sweeping reshuffle of the Greek government was announced after midnight on Monday , less than a year after the elections which brought the ruling socialist PASOK party in power last October.
Greek government spokesman George Petalotis who retains his post, announced that Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou remains at the helm of the ministry which is regarded as crucial, while the country struggles to exit a severe economic crisis since late 2009.
According to local analysts and media reports, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou seeks to strengthen with the reshuffle the effectiveness of the team of his close associates which lead the efforts to bring Greece out of the crisis. The new team is bigger than the previous one.
Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos also retains his post, while outgoing Interior Minister Yannis Ragoussis is named as Presidency Minister responsible for the better coordination of the government.
Harris Pampoukis gets the portfolio of Foreign Investments, which is a priority for Greece, as it tries to slash a huge budget deficit that now stands at 13.6 percent of GDP and return to the path of development over a three-year period with the assistance of EU and the International Monetary Fund.
Regarding the changes in other key posts, Papandreou left the portfolio of Foreign Minister to outgoing Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and replaced Economy, Shipping and Competitiveness Minister Louka Katseli with the current Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.
The ministry is renamed to Ministry of Regional Development and Competitiveness. Current PASOK National Council Secretary Socratis Xynidis will serve as a deputy minister responsible for northern Greece.
Katseli will be the new labor and social security minister, while outgoing Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos moves to the post of Health and Social Solidarity Ministry.
Secretary of PASOK's parliamentary group Christos Papoutsis is named as new citizen protection minister, and Giannis Diamantidis as head of the new Ministry of Shipping which will be separated from the Economy Ministry and renamed as Ministry of Sea Transportation, Islands and Fishing.
Outgoing Health Minister Marilisa Xenoyannakopoulou receives the post of Alternate Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs, while Pavlos Geroulanos remains as culture and tourism minister, Evangelos Venizelos as defense minister, Dimitris Reppas as infrastructure minister, Anna Diamantopoulou as education minister and Tina Birbili as environment protection and climate change minister and Harris Kastanidis as justice, transparency and human rights minister.
Kostas Skandalidis will be the new head of Agriculture Ministry, replacing Katerina Batzeli who is the most prominent minister to be left out of the new cabinet.
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