Three women, popstar, familiar faces in new government

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President Nikos Christodoulides has fallen short of his promises for a gender-balanced Cabinet and to fill ministerial posts with newcomers and technocrats.

Despite the new president pledging to refresh the government with young talent, the average age of the cabinet is 50.

Christodoulides investiture ceremony to take place Tuesday in Parliament, following lengthy speculation and alleged horse-trading over his ministers.

Fully-fledged cabinet members include three women and eight men, while three were part of previous administrations.

For ministers and deputy ministers, there are 11 men and six women.

Christodoulides appointed two female commissioners for the environment and gender equality, who are not officially members of the Cabinet.

Athena Michaelidou takes the helm at the Education Ministry; she was the former Director at Cyprus Pedagogical Institute.

Michaelidou can be ticked off as one of the technocrats appointed to a ministry, as promised by the new President.

Heading the Health Ministry, Popi Kanari was Director of the State General Laboratory for the past eight years, spending 37 at the state service.

Anna Koukkides-Procopiou, another technocrat, takes the Justice Ministry.

Procopiou studied at University College London (UCL) and holds an honours degree in Economics and History, with an MA in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Holding the key role of Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, 47, is a member of the Council of the Cyprus Judicial College.

He appeared on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus before the Court of Justice of the EU to give an opinion for the House of Representatives on matters of EU law and the constitution.

He was appointed a negotiating team member for the Cyprus issue in 2014 and participated in all stages of the process in Cyprus, Geneva, and Crans-Montana.

The new Cabinet also includes familiar faces, with Finance Minister Makis Keravnos having served in the same role under Tassos Papadopoulos. He was also the labour minister under Papadopoulos.

Keravnos is the oldest cabinet member, at the age of 71.

Constantinos Ioannou, 53, taking over at the Interior Ministry, was also a member of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades’ administration.

Ioannou was health minister when the COVID-19 pandemic began in Cyprus, and Michalis Hadjipantela replaced him.

Yiannis Panayiotou, 42, with a background in education, takes over at the Labour Ministry.

Panayiotou studied at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and has a degree in Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology, and postgraduate degrees in Educational Policy (MA) and Educational Research (MSc) from King’s College London.

He left his post at Ernst & Young (EY) as Senior Director of Consulting Services and Head of the EY Academy of Learning & Development.

Alexis Vafeadis, an architect, takes over at the Transport Ministry.

Vafeadis was a board member of the Association of Architects.

New Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos was the Director of the Government Printing Office and Head of Government Procurement and Procurement Services at the Ministry of Finance.

Another familiar face, Michalis Giorgallas, 54, former MP with the Solidarity Movement, is the Defence Minister.

George Papanastasiou, 61, takes over at the key Energy and Commerce Ministry.

Papanastasiou worked for 26 years for British Petroleum in senior management positions in the UK and Cyprus, and until his appointment was Managing Director of VTT Vasiliko, the Cyprus subsidiary of the energy giant VTTI BV Group.

Popstar

The Christodoulides’ administration also includes well-known popstar Michalis Hatzjigiannis, 44, who was appointed as deputy minister of culture.

Hadjiyiannis is a famous singer in Greece and Cyprus who has won many awards in both countries.

Filippos Hadjizacharias, 48, an Association of Chartered Accountants of Cyprus member, was appointed to the Deputy Ministry of Innovation.

Costas Koumis, 48, former Director of Communication of the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce, was appointed Deputy Minister of Tourism.

Constantinos Letymbiotis, 38, who was part of Christodoulides’ campaign team, is the government spokesperson. He is the youngest member to hold a cabinet portfolio.

Marilena Raouna, 40, a former associate of outgoing President Anastasiades, is head of his diplomatic office.

Josie Christodoulou was appointed Gender Rights Commissioner, while Maria Panayiotou is Commissioner for the Environment.

Victoras Papadopoulos, a former spokesperson for the Anastasiades administration, takes over the President’s press office.

Two other long-time journalists join the government.

They are the Deputy Minister of Welfare, Marilena Evangelou, and the Deputy Government Spokesperson, Doxa Komodromou.

Lawyer Marina Hadjimanolis takes over the Deputy Ministry of Shipping. She is a member of the Cyprus Bar Association.