ATHENS — Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday appointed Yannis Stournaras, an economist and former government adviser who served as development minister in the previous caretaker administration, as the country’s new finance minister.
The appointment came a day after the man originally designated to assume the post, Vassilis Rapanos, chairman of the National Bank of Greece, resigned before he could be sworn in, citing health problems. Mr. Rapanos, who reportedly has a history of serious health ailments and was admitted to a hospital with nausea and intense stomach pains on Friday, was released on Tuesday.
Mr. Stournaras, 55, is the founder of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, known by its acronym IOBE. He has advised previous Socialist governments, including that of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, which secured Greece’s entry into the euro zone. Formerly an adviser to the Finance Ministry and the country’s central bank, Mr. Stournaras was a research fellow and lecturer at Oxford University in the 1980s and remains an economics professor at Athens University.
Speaking at a book presentation earlier in the day, Mr. Stournaras said he was optimistic about his new job despite the difficulties the county faces. “I think there are possibilities for Greece to emerge from the crisis,” he said. “Greece has enormous potential, but we must pass through a wall of established ways of thinking if Greece is to change.”
The new finance minister, who must be sworn in, will not travel to a coming European Union leaders’ summit meeting, where his predecessor, George Zannias, the caretaker finance minister, will represent Greece as part of a delegation led by President Karolos Papoulias, a spokesman for the prime minister said. The president is standing in for Mr. Samaras, who has been advised against traveling after an operation for a detached retina.
In the latest blow to Greece’s fragile new government, Giorgos Vernikos, deputy minister for Greece’s merchant marine ministry, resigned on Tuesday afternoon, according to state television channel Net. The reason for his departure was not given, but the news came a few hours after the leftist opposition party Syriza issued a statement claiming that there was a conflict of interest, citing the minister’s involvement with an offshore firm.
The premier’s office said Mr. Samaras would meet his coalition partners, Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist Pasok party, and Fotis Kouvelis, chief of the Democratic Left — Tuesday evening to discuss the political situation and strategy ahead of the summit meeting, where officials are expected to consider Greece’s request for the easing of some of the terms of a $170 billion debt deal with foreign creditors. State television reported that Mr. Stournaras was expected to attend the meeting on Tuesday night.
Mr. Venizelos, a former finance minister who negotiated the current debt deal, met with the president on Tuesday to brief him ahead of the summit meeting. He told reporters afterward that Greece would seek an “organized revision of the European deal.”
The government’s three coalition leaders issued a joint policy proposal on Saturday calling for the revocation of several tough austerity measures imposed by international creditors, including tax increases and thousands of layoffs in the public sector. The initiative is said to have irked the creditors, who appear unwilling to concede on anything more than an extension of the deadline for Greece to meet fiscal deficit targets.
The coalition leaders agreed on Monday that they would travel together to Brussels when Mr. Samaras had fully recovered.