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Cyprus

Diko demands minister’s resignation over halloumi debacle (Updated)

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis

Opposition party Diko on Saturday demanded the resignation or dismissal of Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis over the loss of the halloumi trademark in the UK.

The party said the minister should assume responsibility for the debacle and resign or else the president “must sack the minister since the government, through its spokesman, has described the case as an ‘embarrassment, gaffe, and suicide’.”

Passing the buck onto civil servants is not enough and not assuming responsibility constitutes a blatant attempt to hide the inadequate supervision by the ministry’s political leadership, Diko said.

Cyprus lost the trademark in the UK last week due to the commerce ministry’s failure to respond on time to applications filed by a British company, John & Pascalis Ltd, to invalidate or revoke the trademark

According to a UK court, the “evidence simply demonstrates that the ministry was the author of its own misfortune. The Ministry’s internal procedures were so disorganised that the letter enclosing the Application was passed from official to official after receipt on February 9, 2018, but no action was taken.”

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told Sigma TV on Friday that the whole matter was “embarrassing”, “painful”, but also “an act of suicide as regards the interests of the country.”

He said that the government will assume its responsibilities.

“We will make every effort with all the means available not only to rectify it but also for a positive ending as regards the halloumi file,” he said.

It is obvious, he said, that there have been tragic mistakes and omissions which need to be investigated and for responsibilities to be attributed.

The commerce ministry said on Wednesday it launched a probe into the matter while Lakkotrypis said on Thursday Cyprus has already reapplied to register halloumi in the UK.

The matter will now be discussed at the House trade and commerce and agriculture committees. The House watchdog committee called for immediate reform of the civil service.

The head of the House watchdog committee, Zacharias Zachariou, said the incident concerned issues relating to the operation of the civil service and stressed the importance of reforming the way the state operates.

It was inevitable for something like this to happen, he said, as the public service functions as it did in 1960 and with a dated mindset and lack of accountability.

Originally a Diko member, Lakkotrypis quit the party in March 2014 after he disagreed with its decision to leave the government coalition over disagreements with President Nicos Anastasiades’ handling of the Cyprus problem.

 


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