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Cyprus

Foreign ministry appointment prompts strike action

A 38-year-old man recently appointed as ambassador by the public service commission (PSC) despite not being a member of the diplomatic corps, has refuted claims of receiving favourable treatment following reaction within the foreign ministry and calls for reversal of this action.

Petros Demetriou told daily Politis he was appointed ambassador in one of five vacant posts. The rest were filled by diplomats.

His appointment stirred strong reactions within the foreign ministry and the diplomatic corps with members of civil servant union Pasydy announcing they would go on a work stoppage on Thursday. The union’s branch representing foreign ministry employees calls for immediate revocation of the decision, which it said, was arbitrary and not serving public interest.

The members of the diplomatic service will go on a two-hour work stoppage between 11am and 1pm on Thursday. They will gather outside the foreign ministry. The same measure will be taken in Cyprus’ diplomatic missions abroad, at the appropriate local time, the union said on Wednesday.

Demetriou told Politis he did not receive any favourable treatment and that, if anyone stepped in to help him, he would like to know who. According to the paper, the 38-year-old, with a PhD in Sociology and who has been teaching as an associate in state universities in Cyprus, has been trying for years for an appointment within the foreign ministry. He said he went through all the procedures provided for in the hiring process.

But people within the foreign ministry find this unfair given that there are many within the service around the same age as Demetriou with years of experience who are still serving as diplomats.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, when asked about this issue in parliament this week, said he would not comment on the decision of an independent authority.

“I think it was the first time in the history of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that we had such a case, and you understand that it caused dissatisfaction,” he said.

Pasydy said this move marginalises capable diplomats with decades of experience and sends a message of indignation to the members of the diplomatic service while it negatively affects the country’s image abroad.

It also accuses the PSC of “returning to practices of the past” pointing out it has been decades since similar appointments had taken place. The union also said this decision contributes to the already difficult situation prevailing in the foreign ministry which operates on a limited budget and with many problems such as understaffing, stagnation in promotions but also lack of vision and support of its work.

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