President Nikos Christodoulides, at the swearing-in ceremony of the Deputy Minister of European Affairs, Ms Marilena Raouna. (Photo: Andreas Loucaides/PIO)

Cyprus junior minister takes charge of 2026 presidency

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Marilena Raouna was officially sworn in as the island’s first Deputy Minister of European Affairs on Wednesday, marking Nicosia’s preparations for assuming the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2026.

Raouna was mentioned in the reshuffle and new appointments earlier this month, but needed Cabinet approval before being appointed.

During the ceremony, President Nikos Christodoulides emphasised the need for the second Cypriot Presidency to position Cyprus at the core of the EU with specific initiatives and concerted action.

He outlined the goal of advancing the unification process, leading it a step further for the benefit of all European citizens.

Christodoulides congratulated Raouna on her appointment, marking the official start of the preparations for the Cypriot presidency, highlighting the importance of this milestone for the country.

“The exercise of the presidency is not only a demanding institutional duty, but also a national mission with a pan-European dimension”.

The Cypriot presidency is part of the ‘Trio Presidency’ that will be succeeding Poland in the first half of 2025, followed by Denmark in the second half of the same year. Cyprus will be taking over on January 1, 2026, with President Christodoulides stressing the need to expedite preparations.

“The official start of preparations coincides with the 20th anniversary of Cyprus’s accession to the European Union, the Republic’s greatest achievement since its establishment in 1960”.

He highlighted Cyprus’s significant contribution to European affairs and its role in shaping policies on major issues affecting European citizens.

Christodoulides expressed confidence that the junior minister and her team would dedicate themselves to timely planning and creating the necessary institutional structure for a successful presidency.

Raouna pledged to work hard with dedication by her team, utilising their knowledge and experience to achieve a successful and impactful presidency.

Close collaboration

She committed to close collaboration with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic service, the Permanent Representation in Brussels, and the General Secretariat for European Affairs, as well as all members of the Cabinet, to create or enhance structures and adopt best practices for a successful presidency with priorities beneficial to all EU citizens.

“The journey of the second Cypriot presidency of 2026 begins with a vision for a more inclusive and just Europe, reflecting the aspirations of its founders and meeting the expectations of the current and future generations”.

Raouna moves to the newly junior ministry from her previous role as the director of the president’s diplomatic office and special councillor to Christodoulides from 2018 to 2021, when he was Foreign Minister.

She had previously worked with Christodoulides when they were both at the Republic’s Permanent Representation in Brussels.

Just as they cooperated 12 years ago, “alongside you, Mr. President, as a member of the team that successfully carried out the first Cypriot Presidency of the Council, I understand firsthand the significance and challenges of the project and the tremendous undertaking,” said Raouna.

Head of Nicosia’s diplomatic representation in Brussels in charge of organising the Cyprus EU Presidency was Andreas Mavroyiannis, Christodoulides’ main opponent in last year’s presidential elections.