Rallis at Greek helm as Caramanlis moves up
A smooth transfer of power has taken place in this country as former Prime Minister constantine Caramanlis moves up to the presidency soon and his close associate, George Rallis, becomes premier.
Mr. Caramanlis has been a powerful factor in Greek political life for 25 years, and his influence is expected to continue under Prime Minister Rallis, who was sworn in May 10.
The new premier was one of the most vocal critics of the former Greek military regime. As interior minister in the civilian government that was abolished by the colonels on April 21, 1967, Mr. Rallis was one of the first to get wind of the impending coup and try to stop it.
The policy of the new government, Mr. Rallis stated, will be along the guidelines of the liberal-democratic radicalism and the ideological principles that have been established by the founder of the New Democracy party, Mr. Caramanlis.
He warned that the country is facing additional problems as a result of the critical international situation, and he asked for cooperation, irrespective of party affiliation.
Mr. Rallis is expected to continue strenthening Greek links with the West.
While Greece's membership in the European Community may present difficulties for its industry, it will help the Greek farmer and, more significantly, be a reassuring sign that a democratic system will continue.
The new government also will make an effort to reintegrate -- or at least partially return -- Greece to the military wing of NATO. Turkey has blocked Greece's previous efforts because of differences over control of the sea lanes and air space in the Aegean. The plugging of this gap in NATO's southeast flank is becoming all the more necessary with Yugoslav President Tito's death and the possibility of instability in the Balkans.
Mr. Rallis has a close understanding of these issues from his service as foreign affairs minister. His chief attention, however, may focus on the internal issues, economic as well as political.
The most radical changes in the new Cabinet occurred in the economic sector. There is a new minister of coordination, John Boutos; a new finance minister, Miltiadis Evert; and new people in the ministries of commerce, industry and transportation.
Greece is facing a number of problems in the economic field, especially inflation, which reached 25 percent in 1979 but is said to be receding somewhat this year.
Politically, the new premier will have to deal with the clamoring of Andreas Papandreou and his Socialist Pasok Party for early elections -- on the argument that the present composition of Parliament no longer accurately reflects the will of the people.
Finally, Mr. Rallis may face a showdown with Defense Minister Evangelos Averof, his only contender for leadership of the New Democracy party and the premiership.
Mr. Averof received 84 votes to Mr. Rallis's 88, with three abstentions. Mr. Averoff accepted the result, stating that democratic procedure was strictly maintained, but he refused Mr. Rallis's offer of the vice-premiership.
Political analysts think Mr. Averof and some followers may choose follow their own path.