Greek Ministries Reshuffle, Officially Change Leadership

Panagiotis LafazanisOn Monday the Greek ministries that were reshuffled on Friday had their official changing of the guard.

In the Labor Ministry, George Katrougalos replaced Panos Skourletis who will be now leading the Ministry of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy.

“The agreement with the creditors is not Varkiza because the guns, meaning power, were not surrendered,” Katrougalos said referring to the Varkiza Treaty of 1945 when the World War II fighters of the communist EAM-ELAS forces agreed to surrender their weapons in exchange for a number of conditions.

Katrougalos noted that the ministry must implement many reforms that are necessary. His main areas of focus are the pension system and employment relations.

Outgoing deputy minister Dimitris Stratoulis, who voted against the bailout deal in parliament, noted that he still supports the government and will keep his MP seat to try to minimize the compromises the Greek government makes.

Stratoulis’s replacement, ANEL MP Pavlos Haikalis, noted that he is well aware of the challenges he will face and said he wants to focus on action instead of talk.

Former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, upon giving up his role to Panos Skourletis, said he has very fond memories of the ministry, which he believes to be one of the most important in the country.

Lafazanis has been a staunch opposer of the Greek bailout deal that was ratified by the Greek parliament. His decision to vote against the deal in the parliament led to his replacement by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“I am leaving in disagreement with the deal that the government made with the so-called institutions,” he said and added “I want this memorandum to be a small parenthesis in the SYRIZA government’s path and I believe I express the wider sentiment of the country’s progressive left”.

Lafazanis has repeatedly expressed his support for the government and will hold on to his SYRIZA MP seat despite denouncing the bailout deal.

Skourletis, the incoming energy minister, recognized that the bailout deal is harsh but noted that the Greek government was able to open discussions on the Greek debt and emphasize the futility of austerity.

Trifon Alexiadis, the new Deputy Finance minister who replaces Nadia Valavani who resigned last week, noted that his main priority is to combat tax evasion in the country. Alexiadis had previously been responsible for forming SYRIZA’s taxation policy.

Alexiadis revealed his two immediate goals. One is to carry out inspections throughout the Greek economy to ensure that VAT taxes are not lost and the other is to ensure that Greek citizens file their tax reports on time as there will be no extensions.

Valavani on her part told Alexiadis he will need a lot of luck to carry out his goals. Similarly to Lafazanis, she refuses to give up her SYRIZA MP seat despite of her opposition to the party’s line.