By George Psyllides
THE CABINET on Tuesday appointed the new board members to state organisations, rejecting suggestions of horse trading among coalition partners.
“The selection, despite all that was said and written in the past days, was based strictly on the specifications set by the president,” deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said.
A careful read of the names, Papadopoulos said, by someone acting in good faith, would reveal that there was no sign of horse trading.
“On the contrary, the sole guiding principle was the meritocratic selection of people from the entire social spectrum and numerous professional sectors,” Papadopoulos said.
Two of the three main organisations, which are also slated for privatisation in the next few years, will be headed by senior civil servants.
Communications ministry permanent secretary Alecos Michaelides was appointed chairman of the ports authority, while Christos Patsalides, his counterpart at the finance ministry, went to the state telecoms company CyTA.
Businessman and dentist Giorgos Pipis was appointed chairman of the electricity company, EAC.
Former health minister and university dean Costas Kadis will chair the board of the Cyprus tourism organisation and journalist Giorgos Tsalakos takes over at the state broadcaster CyBC.
The spokesman stressed that it was not a problem if some of those appointed voted for or were considered close to a party.
“There are no people who belong to the hard core of parties in the strict sense. If they have political beliefs it is not a sin,” Papadopoulos said. “A distorted picture of what happened these past days has been conveyed.”
Papadopoulos said the president had consulted the leaders of the coalition partners to set the criteria. It was the first time that so much interest had been shown and the top people had to be selected.
AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said there had been a lot of haggling among coalition parties.
Speaking to reporters before the official announcement of the appointments, Kyprianou focused on CyBC, questioned the selection of Tsalakos as chairman.
“There will be a lot of questions, in my mind at least, over how Mr Giorgos Tsalakos will operate, if he were appointed, knowing how he had operated as the director of a newspaper,” Kyprianou said.
Tsalakos headed daily Alithia, which fiercely opposed former president Demetris Christofias during his stint
Kyprianou said he was not rushing to judge Tsalakos but wondered whether he was the best choice for CyBC, an organisation that must emit objectivity.
The government responded later Tuesday, expressing surprise at the comments, which it described as “unfortunate.”
Tsalakos has served journalism for decades, including Greek and Cypriot television, a statement said.
He is knowledgeable and “we think he will exercise his duties successfully, due to his experience, accumulated in his long journalistic career.”