PM decides cabinet reshuffle after catastrophic August wildfires

By George Gilson

Cabinet reshuffles are most often an attempt to transcend the serious errors of ministers in the handling of crucial issues in order to signal a new beginning for the government, free of the albatrosses of the past.

So it was with today's announcement by government spokesman Yannis Economou of the new government, for which unusually there were no leaks in advance.

Three top ministers in crucial posts kept their portfolios - Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, and Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, signaling continuity in critical  policy areas.

The main problem that the prime minister sought to shake off was the management of the disastrous August wildfires that destroyed over 100,000 hectares of forest land.

That and previous errors led to the removal from the government of Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis.

Aside from criticism of the lack of coordination of the country's limited number of wildfire water planes and ground forces, Chrisohoidis had faced strong opposition criticism that there was excessive use of police force in a variety of circumstances.

The PM also created a Civil Protection Ministry that will be responsible, inter alia, for the Fire Service, which has been blamed for inadequate management of the August wildfires.

Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, who served as defence minister in the previous SYRIZA government, was tapped to fill the new post. His remit will include the competencies of the former deputy minister for civil protection, Nikos Hardalias, who was responsible for the enforcement of pandemic public health measures and became a household name with his strong admonitions at the regular briefings on the development of the...

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