Greece Names New Finance Minister

Posted June 17th, 2011 at 4:05 am (UTC-5)
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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has named a new finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle designed to tackle the country's crippling debt crisis.

A government spokesman announced Friday that current Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be the new finance minister, replacing George Papaconstantinou, who moves to the environment ministry.

European Union economic chief Olli Rehn said Thursday he is confident eurozone ministers will grant a $17 billion loan payment to Greece to prevent Athens from defaulting on its debt.

Greece has promised to carry out economic reforms in exchange for last year's $160 billion bailout from the EU and International Monetary Fund.

Two ruling Socialist Party members of parliament quit Thursday to protest Mr. Papandreou's handling of the of the economic crisis. Greeks have turned out in droves to a series of nationwide protests against the economy and austerity measures, outraged that they are being asked to make more sacrifices.

EU officials have been discussing the terms of a possible second bailout for Greece. But Rehn says no decision is expected until next month because of disagreements on how much the private sector should contribute to a new rescue package.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday EU nations must compromise to protect the euro, whose value has weakened against major currencies because of Greece and other weak economies, including Portugal and Ireland.