Greece names new finance minister


Respected economist Yannis Stournaras, who was part of a team that negotiated Greece's entry to the euro, has been appointed as new finance minister, the government announced today.

Greece's new conservative-led government scrambled to make a quick decision on the post after their first choice, banker Vassilis Rapanos, quit yesterday on the advice of doctors after spending four days in hospital suffering dizziness and abdominal pains.

His sudden resignation threw the government into confusion at a time when it faces the daunting task of trying to persuade sceptical international lenders to ease the harsh terms of a bailout that has enraged the population.

"Prime minister Antonis Samaras has decided to name Athens University economics professor ... Yannis Stournaras as finance minister," Mr Samaras's office said in a statement.

Party officials said the three Greek coalition leaders had quickly agreed on Samaras's choice of Mr Stournaras (55) who is nicknamed "Mr Euro" in Greece.

Samaras, who is recovering from eye surgery, will meet leaders of his two coalition allies - the Socialist PASOK party and the smaller Democratic Left - at his home later today to discuss the government's plans to renegotiate the bailout, a party official said.

The new finance minister faces a difficult juggling act - pushing for more time and money from sceptical foreign lenders while coaxing reluctant officials at home to push through unpopular reforms.