Christofias’ new Cabinet offers few surprises

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias followed an expected route in appointing his new Cabinet yesterday.

Five ministries went to AKEL, four to DIKO and two to EDEK suggesting that the tripartite alliance has been revived, if unofficially, despite previous denials.

MEP and European Union Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou has been appointed Foreign Minister.

DIKO’s Kyprianou had already handed in his resignation from his post to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday.

The remainder of the term of Kyprianou’s Commission post will be served by United Democrat Androulla Vassiliou, wife of former AKEL-backed President George Vassiliou.

Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Cyprus Charilaos Stavrakis was appointed Finance Minister.

In 2006, President Tassos Papadopoulos had appointed Stavrakis at the helm of the Electricity Authority.

Stavrakis’ appointment sees a continuation of the policy of placing a technocrat at the helm of the economy, rather than a politician.

Outgoing Finance Minister Michalis Sarris did not have any political affiliations and had in fact offered his services to both remaining presidential candidates, Ioannis Kasoulides and Demetris Christofias, prior to the second round of the presidential elections last week.

“We must work in harmony to secure a competitive economy,” said Stavrakis.
“There is room for improvement in the mixed economy, so as to perfect its services in the interests of the simple Cypriot citizen.”

AKEL’s Neoklis Sylikiotis returns to the Cabinet as Interior Minister.

In the outgoing government Sylikiotis had briefly served as Education Minister after the sudden death of Pefkios Georgiades.

Sylikiotis was terse and to the point: “We begin work at once. Our aim is to implement the governmental programme, as announced by Demetris Christofias in the election season.”

Former Chief of Police and Acting President of the House, Costas Papacostas is the new Defence Minister.

“I will do what I can and I will do what I should,” Papacostas said.

Sporting a career in the National Guard, the Police and the House of Representatives, Papacostas said that his new post is, “a return to my roots.”

Rector of the new Technical University of Cyprus and AKEL man Andreas Demetriou has been appointed Education Minister.

Lawyer and DIKO MP Antonis Paschalides is the new Minister for Commerce Industry and Tourism.

EDEK’s Nicos Nicolaides is the new Communications and Works Minister, while
the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment was also given to Socialist EDEK man Michalis Polynikis.

PEO trade union activist Sotiroulla Charalambous, the only woman in the new Cabinet, takes over as Labour Minister.

Kypros Chrysostomides, who had formerly served as government spokesman in the Papadopoulos administration, will be the new Minister of Justice and Public Order.
Chrysostomides, the leader of the Front for the Reconstruction of the Centre, was elected as an independent MP on the AKEL ticket in May 2006.

Interior Minister Christos Patsalides is the only current minister who remains in the Cabinet, albeit at a new post.

He is now Health Minister and will oversee the implementation of the General Health Plan promised by Christofias.

“I will co-operate fully in the attempts to implement the new government’s programme, while I will also respect the party (DIKO) which has suggested my appointment”, he said.

“Hard work is the order of the day. I’m honoured to serve two different governments.”

Four non-Cabinet appointments saw an equivalent number of AKEL supporters assume positions around the President.

The ministerial-level Cabinet post of Government spokesman was given to Christofias’ press officer Stefanos Stefanou.

Titos Christofides has been appointed the Undersecretary to the President, while Vassos Georgiou is the new director of the President’s Office.

Former Foreign Minister and High Commissioner to London, George Iacovou, is the new Presidential Commissioner

The move sees the revival of a post abolished by Papadopoulos five years ago.
“Ever since 1974, I have devoted the majority of my time to the Cyprus problem,” Iacovou said.

“I hope to be one of the President’s closest associates.”

Finally, former Green MP and HTI lecturer Charalambos Theopemptou can resume his work as Environment Commissioner.

The post was first established by Papadopoulos in an effort to upgrade environmental policies.

At 10am today, confirmation of the new Cabinet will take place at the Presidential Palace, and will be followed by the first Cabinet meeting.