The Cyprus government plans to create press officer positions in each ministry, according to Reform Commissioner and Undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides.
During a seminar on effective government communication at the Presidential Palace on Thursday, co-organised by the Cyprus Press and Information Office and the British High Commission, British experts were invited to share their experience with Cyprus government officials.
These included Alex Aiken, executive director for the UK government communications, Stephen Welch, a communications independent consultant, Robert Orchard, a former BBC political and parliamentary correspondent.
A panel of Cypriot journalists was also set up to discuss issues the Cyprus media.
This discussion aired a series of complaints of government shortcomings with regard to communication with the press, not least concerning the absence of a spokesman at the foreign ministry, which most journalists agreed makes their jobs more difficult.
This prompted a response from Petrides, who said the issue has long been acknowledged by the government, but presented with practical difficulties.
According to Petrides, ministry career technocrats couldn’t assume these duties as spokesmen would be responsible for the promotion of each government’s policies, so the positions needed to be political appointments – a notion met with criticism from both opposition and the press, he pointed out.
Though Petrides was quick to clarify he was voicing personal opinions and was not speaking for the government, his position that the creation of ministry spokesmen posts should be legislated carries weight in light of his capacity as Public Service Reform Commissioner.