President Nikos Christodoulides
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Credibility above all else

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The new year did not get off to a good start for President Christodoulides.

At his first Council of Ministers meeting, he had to look his cabinet members in the eyes and almost apologise for saying that he would proceed with a reshuffle within 18 months of his government.

Effectively, any minister sacked within this period would not be eligible for a ministerial pension, come retirement day, which is what every Cyprus politician desires, especially so the coalition parties supporting the president.

In other comments which raised eyebrows, Christodoulides said that he was now better aware of each minister’s actions, capabilities and performance. Did it take him ten months to realise which cabinet member was up to standard and who was not?

Several names have been suggested as potential cuts in a reshuffle, based on their popularity and achievements. For example, should the health minister be given the boot, simply for challenging the credentials of the senior-most civil servant in the ministry?

But with so many changes, so soon, and having had to face criticism on other choices, including ministerial advisors, the president needs to work on his administration’s credibility.

As if it’s not enough that the golden passports will continue to haunt this government, seeing as the incumbent was a member of the previous administration for nine of those ten years, there are so many other issues that Cyprus needs to regain its credibility. And this effort should come from the chief executive.

The ‘Amalthia’ maritime aid corridor to Gaza has not inspired, considering that the EU itself has failed the Palestinians miserably, with a total absence of foreign policy initiatives for the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean.

Cheesemakers are pulling our leg constantly changing the ingredients ratios of the PDO halloumi, with Cyprus losing further credibility in Brussels and the rest of the EU. Should the agriculture minister be sacked because of the incompetence and indecisiveness of others?

The energy minister is struggling to keep Chevron engaged in offshore gas exploration, driving a hard bargain at a time when we clearly do not have the upper hand. However, he does not seem to be putting his foot down when it comes delays in the Vassiliko LNG plant, while the EuroAsia interconnector electricity cable was handed on a silver plate to Chinse interests, upsetting our European and Atlantic partners further and depriving Cyprus of any future say in the power link.

The police reform we have heard so much about from incumbent and previous justice ministers, does not seem to be going anywhere. And no one is genuinely concerned about reforming and upgrading the police, simply so as not to upset the status with public sector trade unions. The same labour groups that do not want to see reforms in education either, despite the standards of learning in Cyprus reaching rock bottom.

If the president wants to regain credibility, for his administration or for the country in general, he needs to take the bull from the horns and confront the realities plaguing society. He’s had ten months to get to get his administration in order and can no longer afford any further delays.