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Ex-banker named Greece's new finance minister

June 26, 2012


Yannis Stournaras as he leaves from Premier's office at Maximos Mansion. — Photo AP

ATHENS: Greece on Tuesday named former banker and economics professor Yannis Stournaras to the crucial post of finance minister after the previous nominee turned down the post due to ill health.

“Athens University economics professor and managing director of the foundation of economic and industrial research Yannis Stournaras is appointed finance minister,” said a statement from the prime minister's office.

The previous nominee, the chairman of Greece's biggest bank, Vassilis Rapanos, had been appointed on Thursday and taken to hospital on Friday suffering from severe chest pains. He was never officially sworn in.

As chairman of the council of economic advisors at the finance ministry between 1994 and 2000, Stournaras took part in negotiations for Greece's entry in the eurozone and has strongly defended Greece's conduct at the time.

The 55-year-old Stournaras was also caretaker development minister after the inconclusive May 6 elections.

He was previously a member of the board of the Public Debt Management Office (1998-2000) as well as chairman and chief executive of Emporiki Bank (2000-2004) before it became part of the French group Credit Agricole.

Stournaras has a difficult path to negotiate, as the heavily indebted country is hoping to renegotiate the terms of a second multi-billion EU-IMF bailout that has been keeping the economy afloat.

A firm believer that Greece should remain in the eurozone, a week before the June 17 elections Stournaras said that “Greece's case is not that of Argentina. If Greece were to change its currency, banks and businesses would be too exposed,” he was quoted as telling the state-run Athens news agency ANA.

For Stournaras, the Greek economy's biggest problem is a “lack of liquidity” and he voiced support for a “partial renegotiation” of the EU-IMF loan, which includes austerity measures that many Greeks are vehemently opposed to.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, currently recovering from an eye operation, has pledged to renegotiate the rescue package to obtain more favorable terms.