Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ new left-wing government took office on Wednesday with painful economic reforms ahead and a growing migration crisis that threatens to open a rift in the EU.
Tsipras barely had time to see his cabinet sworn into office before flying to Brussels for an emergency migration summit, a day after EU ministers forced through a controversial deal to relocate 120,000 refugees, angering several member states in the process.
In statements after his election victory on Sunday, Tsipras said Europe had failed to give adequate support to Athens and called for “shared responsibility” in managing the influx of migrants from Syria and elsewhere.
The new Greek cabinet is almost a carbon copy of the previous government headed by the 41-year-old premier, who resigned in August after seven months in office when he lost his majority in a walkout by anti-euro hardliners in his Syriza party, angered by the economic reform-and-rescue deal.
Sending a signal to international creditors, Tsipras kept the same team that negotiated the deal, the country’s latest EU bailout.
Pro-euro Euclid Tsakalotos retains the finance ministry portfolio while George Chouliarakis, the reclusive expert who led the country’s rocky bailout negotiations with EU and IMF envoys, has been appointed junior finance minister.
According to state agency ANA, Chouliarakis told reporters that 61% of Greece’s bailout obligations had been carried out.
He said Greece faced “mild” recession this year, and that Athens must reach a deal on debt relief after it undergoes its first bailout reform audit later this year.
EU economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici expressed delight earlier today to have Tsakalotos back at the post.
“Happy to continue working together to help Greece,” Moscovici tweeted.
The liberal daily Kathimerini said today that Tsipras had been careful to reward loyal Syriza cadres who supported him against the hardliners.
“Tsipras’ basic criterion was to keep the balance in his party... and reward those who stood at his side on the bailout issue,” the daily said.
Several members of the cabinet noted that their first order of business was to revive the Greek economy, which is still bound by capital controls imposed by Tsipras in June to avert a deposit run.
“Our goal is recovery and reconstruction,” deputy prime minister Yiannis Dragasakis told reporters before the ceremony.