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New Greek PM Announces Cabinet - 2004-03-09

Greece's new conservative prime minister announced his cabinet on Tuesday and promised to take personal charge of the country's troubled preparations for the Olympics. Two days after securing an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections and ending a decade of Socialist majority, Greece's new conservative prime minister unveiled a cabinet mixing new blood and older political heavyweights.

After Sunday's victory, Costas Karamanlis had promised to get straight to work on key issues, including the reunification of the island of Cyprus and the country's faltering preparations for this summer's Athens Olympics.

While some analysts had expected Mr. Karamanlis to create a new Olympic ministry to coordinate the last few months' work, a government spokesman instead announced that the prime minister would be taking personal responsibility for the games.

In addition to his role as prime minister, Mr. Karamanlis is to take control of the Culture Ministry, which is overseeing preparations for August's games.

Meanwhile, 75-year-old Petros Molyviatis is to take over the Foreign Ministry. His immediate task will be to tackle negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus.

Current peace talks have reached a crucial stage, with Greece and Turkey about to step in to smooth out disputes between the island's Greek and Turkish communities. After diplomatic service in Ankara and at the United Nations, Mr. Molyviatis is considered a heavyweight, up to the task of resolving the complex Cyprus issue.

Elsewhere, the 47-year-old new prime minister did not renege on his promise to draft men of his generation into the Cabinet. Chief among those appointments was the nomination of George Alogoskoufis to the Finance Ministry, in a widely predicted move.

Mr. Alogoskoufis was behind the economic battle plan for the New Democracy party before the elections, and has promised increased spending in health and welfare, and privatizing state business.