New government raises the bar

861 views
3 mins read

The new government was sworn in Wednesday, with President Nikos Christodoulides urging his ministers to set high standards, warning them he would not tolerate corruption or favouritism.

During the handover ceremony, Christodoulides called on his ministers to work as “a strong team that takes the country forward”, working as “a government for all Cypriots”.

Christodoulides urged his ministers to operate effectively.

“We will rule with transparency and accountability daily.”

The new president said there were no magic wands to solve the country’s problems except dedication and work ethic.

Christodoulides agreed his cabinet would be judged by the results, responding to criticism over falling short of his promises for a gender-balanced Cabinet and to fill ministerial posts with newcomers.

After Tuesday’s investiture ceremony, Christodoulides defended his cabinet, saying that out of 25 appointments he announced, 11 were women.

But among 11 fully-fledged cabinet members, there are only three women.

The President’s appointments also came under scrutiny as they included two former ministers, going against his electoral promises of not including people from previous governments.

Christodoulides argued that the appointment of the two ministers, Constantinos Ioannou and Makis Keravnos, was down to their technocratic skills.

Finance Minister Keravnos is familiar with the role as he held the post back in 2004-2005 under then President Tassos Papadopoulos. He was also Labour Minister from 2003-2004.

Keravnos is the oldest minister in Christodoulides’ cabinet, essentially coming out of retirement to run the key ministry.

He was the first Minister of Finance after the accession of Cyprus to the EU.

In May 2004, he led Cyprus to the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the first step towards integration into the Eurozone.

He left his government post in August 2005 to join Hellenic Bank as CEO.

Keravnos studied economics at the Kapodistrian University of Athens.

With a United Nations Development Program scholarship, he continued his education in new technology and human resource development at Oxford Brookes University.

“Mr Keravnos, a successful Minister of Finance, was appointed to send the message of continuity in economic policies,” said Christodoulides.

“You do not play around with the economy”.

The President said that Ioannou successfully implemented the GHS and takes on a very difficult ministry.

Newcomer

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos meets the criteria set by Christodoulides as he is a newcomer to the political scene and considered a technocrat with rich experience in his field.

One of the younger members of the cabinet at 47, Kombos, has a master’s degree in EU Law and a PhD in European Constitutional Law, with experience in EU courts representing the Republic of Cyprus.

Kombos was an Associate Professor at the Law Department of the University of Cyprus.

He has a Masters in EU Law (LLM University of Cambridge) and a PhD in European Constitutional Law (PhD University of Hull).

Energy minister George Papanastasiou, 61, has a rich background in the sector.

Papanastasiou is a mechanical engineer with a degree from the Cyprus Higher Institute of Technology, followed by a BSc from the City University of London and an MSc in Refrigeration & Air Conditioning from Kings College, London.

He spent almost four decades at British Petroleum in the UK, working in senior positions between 1986-2022.

Since 2011 he has been the managing director of VTT Vasiliko, a Cypriot subsidiary of the multinational giant VTTI.

VTTI Vasiliko is in charge of building the fuel storage terminal in Vasiliko, completed in 2014, with an investment exceeding €300 mln.

Papanastasiou will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the free energy market in Cyprus and the completion of the project to import natural gas.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Kombos reassured the President that the cabinet was aware of their assigned tasks.

“We must work tirelessly, each of us in our areas of competence with an open mind, steadfast commitment and for the public interest.

“We must be accountable not only to you but also to the country and its citizens.

“Society’s expectations are great, and the manifesto of the President of the Republic will act as a roadmap during our term”.

Christodoulides, a seasoned politician serving as Foreign Minister under Nicos Anastasiades, gained 51.97% of the vote in a run-off on 12 February, beating AKEL-backed career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who took 48.03%.

New government posts

Foreign minister: Constantinos Kombos

Finance minister: Makis Keravnos

Interior minister: Constantinos Ioannou

Labour minister: Yiannis Panayiotou

Education minister: Athena Michaelidou

Health minister: Popi Kanari

Energy, Commerce, and Industry minister: George Papanastasiou

Transport minister: Alexis Vafeades

Agriculture minister: Petros Xenofontos

Defence minister: Michalis Giorgallas (former Solidarity movement MP)

Justice Minister: Anna Koukkides-Procopiou

Deputy tourism minister: Costas Koumis

Deputy welfare minister: Marilena Evangelou

Deputy shipping minister: Marina Hadjimanolis

Deputy culture minister: Michalis Hadjiyiannis

Deputy minister of research, innovation, and digital policy: Philippos Hadjizacharias

Government spokesperson: Constantinos Letymbiotis

Deputy government spokesperson: Doxa Komodromou

Chief of the president’s office: Charalambos Charalambous

Undersecretary to the president: Irene Piki

Director of the president’s press office: Victoras Papadopoulos

Head of the president’s diplomatic office: Marilena Raouna

Cabinet secretary: Penelope Papavasiliou

Gender equality commissioner: Josie Christodoulou

Environment commissioner: Maria Panayiotou