By Constantinos Psillides
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades reshuffled his cabinet yesterday, replacing three ministers and handing one a different portfolio, at the same time unleashing the wrath of his former junior coalition partner.
Three ministers appointed by the Democratic Party DIKO – health, education, and defence – before it decided to leave the government over Anastasiades’ handling of the Cyprus problem, were replaced by newcomers, while a fourth, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis will remain in office.
The director of the Institute of Neurology and Genetics Dr. Philippos Patsalis was appointed health minister, academic Costas Kadis is taking over the education portfolio, and economist Marios Demetriades will head the communications ministry, replacing Tasos Mitsopoulos who moved to defence.
The appointments prompted the reaction of former coalition partners DIKO as two of the new appointments were members of the party.
Having already warned Anastasiades that appointing ministers coming from DIKO would be considered as a hostile act, party spokeswoman Christiana Erortocritou described the appointments as a provocation.
“The president’s decision to appoint former DIKO member Giorgos Lakkotrypis and to date party member Marios Demetriades, is a blatant disregard of the decision the party made to leave the government and by extension a blatant disregard of the people of DIKO,” she said.
“DIKO treated the president honestly and when we disagreed with him we left the government. He did not treat us the same way and for that he will be judged by society,” Erotocritou said.
The government responded by pointing out that if DIKO was consistent with its decision to leave government, it would have also withdrawn all the members of the semi-government boards it had recommended.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said the mentality of the current DIKO leadership was surprising: “Any person with a DIKO card cannot assume public office or serve their country.”
Papadopoulos stressed that nobody could prohibit or dictate to the president whom to choose as members of cabinet.
“The president represents the people and not the leadership of any party,” Papadopoulos said.
Some observers had expected that the three outgoing DIKO ministers – education’s Kyriacos Kenevezos, Petros Petrides at health and defence’s Photis Photiou would have been reappointed, especially after quitting the party earlier this week.
Anastasiades met with all three in private after a cabinet meeting. Following that meeting, Anastasiades met with DISY leader Averof Neofytou and Finance Minister Harris Georgiades.
Regarding the DIKO ministers, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said that Anastasiades would be making a special address tomorrow, when the new Cabinet gets sworn in.
New health minister Philippos Patsalis is an acclaimed and accomplished scientist. In October 2013, his team presented a new non-invasive method for testing unborn children for Down’s syndrome, which significantly lowers the risks of miscarriage.
Costas Kadis was minister of health in the last year of the Papadopoulos administration, from 2007 to 2008. A DIKO member, Kadis was appointed head of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation but resigned after the party ordered its members to step down having left the coalition.
Marios Demetriades is an economist and used to be at Laiki Bank as a Chief Investment Officer for the Asset Management Team. He was later employed by the Cyprus branch of Piraeus Bank as Head of Institutional Sales and Custody
In addition to the new ministers, Anastasiades appointed Odysseas Michaelides, head of the communications ministry internal audit department, as the new auditor-general to replace Chrystalla Georghadji who was appointed Central Bank Governor on Tuesday.
Irena Georgiades, a chartered accountant and adviser to Finance Minister Harris Georgiades has been appointed as the new Commissioner for Public Service Reform.
Anastasiades also appointed Iosifina Antoniou, head of the ruling DISY women’s branch GODISY, as Commissioner for Gender Equality.
The post has been newly created and aims at addressing issues of gender discrimination. Equality issues were under the jurisdiction of the office of the Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou but did not receive much attention due to the massive workload the office had to deal with.
In announcing the appointment for the new Commissioner, the government spokesman said that creating a separate post was mandated by the EU. Antoniou is a lawyer and she was the CEO of J.A. Frangiorgio Ltd.
Anastasiades also appointed Nestoras Nestoros as the Greek Cypriot representative to the Committee for Missing Persons after the resignation of Theophilos Theophilou for health reasons.
Nestoros holds a master in engineering and is employed by the Cyprus Land Development Organisation. Nestoros is an active member of DIKO, having been part of the executive office as the head of NEDIK, DIKO’s youth division. Nestoros was a candidate running for general secretary in the recent DIKO elections but lost to Marinos Mousiouttas.
Dr Toula Onoufriou was appointed head of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company (KRETYK) and Elena Vassiliadou as the new chief at the Natural Gas Public Company DEFA.
Penelope Athinodorou Mantis was appointed chairwoman of the State Fairs Authority and Angelos Loizou as the new head of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Kadis’ previous position. Loizou’s involvement in issues regarding the tourism industry is extensive, having participated in numerous projects involving tourism ventures. He has consulted the Cyprus Hotel Association on a number of occasions and he has more recently helped Paphos municipality to be selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2017.