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Greece names Evangelos Venizelos as new finance minister

The move comes amid speculation that the prime minister had trouble finding a replacement for the outgoing finance minister.

Meet Evangelos Venizelos, the man with the worst job in Europe.
Meet Evangelos Venizelos, the man with the worst job in Europe.
Image: Petros Giannakouris/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 7.50am

GREECE’S PRIME MINISTER George Papandreou has named Evangelos Venizelos as the country’s new finance minister.

A government official informed Reuters of the selection. Venizelos is the current minister for national defence and was formerly minister for culture, minister for development and minister for justice.

The reshuffle was delayed yesterday with speculation according to Reuters that Papandreou was struggling to find a suitable person for the key post of finance minister or “the worst job in Europe” as the Wall Street Journal puts it.

Finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the man who has written the very programme that the government is trying to push through, was widely expected to be replaced but it was the former vice president of the European Central Bank Lucas Papademos who was speculated as his replacement.

Such a choice would have been popular in international circles with the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). How the selection of Venizelos will go down is not immediately clear.

The cabinet changes are designed to ensure that tough new austerity measures aimed at saving around €28 billion between 2012 and 2015 can be passed through parliament and ensure that Greece receives the next tranche of its EU/IMF bailout which is about €12 billion.

The austerity measures have led to riots on the street and political turmoil including resignations from the prime minister’s Socialist Party which has fuelled speculation of a Greek default on its debt.

BBC News reports that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel are due to meet today to discuss how to ensure the country avoids a default.

Banks in their two countries have the most exposure to Greek debt – 55 per cent of the total European exposure.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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