For the New Democracy government, the cabinet reshuffle should have been a promising new start after an ambiguous fight with the Covid-19 pandemic and the wildfires.
The most ambitious move was the idea to create a new ministry for Civil Protection that would integrate the fire service.
Civil Protection is the authority responsible for dealing with natural disasters, pandemics and addressing emergencies.
Evangelos Apostolakis,ex chief of the Hellenic Armed Forces and ex minister of Defense under past SYRIZA governments was chosen to be head of the new ministry.
His name was among the names of new ministers announced early Tuesday morning.
The move was planned to give a double message:
– that climate change (and its consequences, ie wildfires, floods, etc) is a serious matter and should be dealt at a ministerial level
– that head of such a crucial ministry should be a person of wider political acceptance.
SYRIZA, the left-wing opposition party, reacted fiercely on the news, accusing New Democracy of hypocrisy and E. Apostolakis of giving away his political principals to gain a government post.
After that, Apostolakis stepped back and announced he was turning down the appointment.
Government sources could not hide their surprise. Later, they accused Apostolakis of succumbing to the SYRIZA pression.
New Democracy says that just a few days ago SYRIZA was promising political consent in the fight against the climate crisis, but failed to do so by sabotaging the appointment of Apostoloakis.
“It is lamentable that the opposition has targeted in such a vulgar way a personality who could have symbolised the national consensus,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said in a statement.
So the plan to establish a new Civil Protection ministry is, for now, abandoned.
The cabinet reshuffle was completed with new ministers in Health (Athanasios Plevris), in Citizen Protection (Panagiotis Theodorikakos) and Tourism (Vassilis Kikilias).