Greece's revamped coalition says govt stable after reshuffle

Greece's revamped coalition sought to present a united front on Tuesday, insisting that the government was stable despite a reshuffle following the disputed closure of public broadcaster ERT.

"The government intends to carry out its four-year term... Stability is more necessary than ever today, so as not to waste time and exit the crisis," said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras after his new cabinet was sworn in.

"Stability means better coordination between the parties that support the government... Greece has no time to lose," added the conservative prime minister.

Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the coalition's junior partner Pasok, echoed the prime minister's message and pledged to work in tandem with Samaras's New Democracy party.

"We have decided to move forward together, with stability... until the end of this government's term," said Venizelos, who was named deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the reshuffle.

This is "possibly the most crucial (term) of the past ten years for our country," said the socialist politician.

Venizelos added that "Greece is ready to assume the presidency (of the EU), which will coincide with a particularly crucial semester for developments in Europe."

Greece is due to take over the bloc's presidency in 2014.

Samaras was forced to carry out a reshuffle on Monday, after Democratic Left, the smallest partner in the three-party government, quit the coalition over his decision to shut down ERT.

Democratic Left's withdrawal of its 14 lawmakers left the coalition of conservatives New Democracy and socialists Pasok with a narrow majority of 153 deputies in the 300-seat parliament.

Samaras said his new government would focus on getting a fast economic recovery, fighting unemployment and attracting investments. It would also avoid adopting any new austerity measures.

Heavily indebted Greece has been forced to implement painful austerity reforms in exchange for desperately-needed loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The two institutions have committed an overall of 240 billion euros ($314 billion) in rescue loans to Greece, the first victim of the debt crisis, since 2010.

Venizelos, who is former finance minister, negotiated a write-down of privately-held debt in 2012, together with then prime minister Lucas Papademos.

He was elected head of Pasok in March 2012, after the resignation of his predecessor George Papandreou who was heavily criticised over the debt crisis.

Analysts said the revamped government was now more united.

Thanassis Diamantopoulos, professor of political science at Athens' Panteion University, told AFP that "the government has lost its ideological variety" following the departure of the Democratic Left.

"But it has gained in terms of cohesion and determination to carry out the reforms," he added.

According to local media, Samaras had no choice but to give Venizelos key posts in the government, in order to present a solid two-party coalition.

But main opposition party Syriza criticised the new cabinet, saying it is still made up of politicians who accede to the international lenders' demands for more austerity.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has kept his key position.

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