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Cyprus cabinet reshuffle, DIKO ministers replaced, no new women

12 March, 2014

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday in a week of rapid changes, replacing three ministers who resigned from the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO) last week after the junior coalition partner exited the government.

The changes are seen as maintaining a grip on developments, as Cyprus tries to exit from recession and painful austerity measures on the one hand, and proceed with fresh talks with the Turkish Cypriot community to try and resolve the Cyprus problem.
Defence, Education and Health Ministers, Photis Photiou, Kyriakos Kenevezos and Dr Petris Petrides, all hailing from DIKO, disagreed with their party’s split from the coalition, which new leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said was over disagreement with president Anastasiades on the handling of the Cyprus peace talks.
Papadopoulos then asked all his party’s ministers and others appointed to public boards to leave their posts, which upset a lot of DIKO officials, causing a rift within the already fragile party.
Photiou and Kenevezos decided not to leave their party altogether, but Health’s Petrides felt offended and resigned from DIKO of which he had been an active member since it was founded in 1976.
All three ministers have been replaced. Transport Minister Tasos Mitospoulos takes over the defence portfolio, while Philippos Patsalis, director of the research facility Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) is the new minister for health, a position he had been tipped for nearly a year ago when Anastasiades took office. University professor Costas Kadis, formerly chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and a former health minister for the DIKO leader’s father, the late Tassos Papadopoulos, is the new minister for education and culture.
Replacing Mitsopoulos at the transport ministry is economist Marios Demetriades.
Another former DIKO member, Energy and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, retains his cabinet portfolio after he was the first to announce his resignation from DIKO two weeks ago, preferring to keep the vital post that has made him the most popular member of the council of ministers, according to opinion polls, due to his handling of natural gas explorations and export potential.
Ministers hailing from the president’s ruling Democratic Rally (DISY), a member of the European People’s Party with two MEPs, have kept their positions – Ioannis Kasoulides (Foreign), Haris Georgiades (Finance – Eurogroup member), Zeta Emilianidou (Labour), Socratis Hasikos (Interior), Ionas Nicolaou (Justice) and Nicos Kouyialis, minister of agriculture who came from the smaller European Party (Evroko).
A disappointment has been the absence of new female appointments to the cabinet with the Minister of Labour being the only woman. As a consolation to his female supporters, Anastasiades appointed Auditor General Chrystalla Georghadji as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus on Tuesday who takes over from Leicester University economics professor Panicos Demetriades who resigned a day earlier after a year of tense relations with the government that wanted him out over the mishandling of the bailout for Cyprus.
The president appointed Odysseas Michaelides, the financial controller at the Ministry of Communications and Works (Transport) as the new Auditor General.
However, he did proceed with some appointments of women, but limited these to semi-government boards. Irena Georgiadou is the new Commissioner for Public Reform, in charge of restructuring the civil service, Iosifina Antoniou is the new Commissioner for Equality, a new post created in accordance with European Commission directives, Dr Toula Onoufriou chairs the state Cyprus Hydrocarbons Corporation, Eleni Vassiliadou heads the Cyprus Natural Gas Company (DEFA) and Pinelopi Athinodorou Manti is the new president of the Cyprus State Fairs Authority, a body that is expected to be restructured and will sell off most of its vast assets of exhibition space.
Other appointments include hospitality consultant Angelos Loizou, a board member of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, who will now head the CTO, while Nestoras Nestoros is the Greek Cypriot representative on the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP), replacing Theophilos Theophilou who had resigned on health grounds.