The passing of political stalwart Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou on Monday night was marked around the island on Tuesday with the president announcing that flags on government buildings will fly at half-mast.
The news of her death, which broke late on Monday night, was felt across society as trade unions and other organisations postponed events in her honour.
President Nicos Anastasiades ordered flags to fly at half-mast at the government buildings and it was further stated that all his public duties are postponed until Emilianidou’s funeral, set to be held on Friday morning.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela flew to Athens to arrange for the repatriation of her body, which will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
Also on Wednesday the Council of Ministers will decide what honours to bestow on the former minister, while details of her funeral will be announced shortly.
Emilianidou spent three weeks in a medically induced coma in the ICU of the Ygeia Medical Centre in Athens after suffering a cerebral aneurism on May 15. She was transported there by emergency air-ambulance for treatment, where she underwent a lengthy surgery.
Anastasiades spoke with members of Emilianidou’s family on Tuesday to convey his deep sadness on the loss of a friend, minister and associate, the presidency said in a written statement.
The sudden passing of Emilianidou, who held the top labour ministry post since 2013 after a long and distinguished career as a civil servant across many posts, saddened her many colleagues and admirers.
She was appointed labour minister by Anastasiades in April 2013, and while at the helm she steered her ministry across the turbulent waters of the financial crisis, digital transformation, state bureaucracy, and most recently the pandemic, among many other challenges.
According to her own message on the ministry’s website, among the most important reforms and policies she has promoted during her tenure were the guaranteed minimum income and the creation of the deputy ministry of social welfare.
While her work the ministry has earned her the most praise, Emilianidou’s career was dynamic and diverse.
She took the Bar in 1978 and participated in the negotiations for accession of Cyprus to the EU in 2004. From 2001 to 2010 she was the director of the customs department and registrar of VAT. She was also a member of the board of the Cyprus Ports Authority.
From 2010 to 2013 she served as the permanent secretary of the ministry of energy.
During her many years of service, she was the head of the team that prepared the present customs legislation of the Republic and a member of the team that drafted and prepared VAT legislation.
Emilianidou received warm praise for being an important role model for women in politics, with Greens MP Alexandra Attalidou emphasising that Emilianidou did not feel the need to take on manly qualities to prove herself in the field of politics.