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New ministers ‘picked to implement President’s policies’

ΠτΔ – Εγκαίνια ανακαινισμένου μόν
President Nikos Christodoulides

New cabinet members were appointed based on their ability to implement President Nikos Christodoulides’ pre-election pledges and not because of party allegiances, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Tuesday.

Letymbiotis was speaking on CyBC radio where he was asked about the increased presence of Diko party members in the cabinet, which is only one of three parties that supported Christodoulides during the election.

The government spokesman clarified that party ties were not a prerequisite, and that the choice of people was made because the new members would be able to meet the election promises Christodoulides set out.

Meanwhile, commenting on the national council meeting on Monday, Letymbiotis said parties were asked to submit proposals for people they would like to see on Christodoulides’ Cyprus problem team.

Four ministers and one deputy minister were changed on Monday: the health minister, the justice minister, the agriculture minister, the defence minister, and the deputy minister of research, innovation and digital policy.

Taking over at the health ministry was Michalis Damianos, who took the place of Popi Kanari.

In a statement on Tuesday, Damianos said he will work with strength in the position and keep focus on the people.

“The health sector, particularly in recent years, has faced significant challenges for which I am ready to work seriously and responsibly with all stakeholders towards a decisive and effective solution,” he said.

Regarding the national health scheme (Gesy), he added that his goal is to support its architecture while upgrading it by resolving the problems and challenges that have been presented.

Meanwhile, taking over from the deputy minister of research, innovation, and digital policy is Nicodemos Damianou, who took Philippos Hadjizacharias’ place.

Hadjizacharias had resigned in a move pre-empting the reshuffle, as reports had circulated, he along with another three ministers and deputy ministers would be axed.

“I come to the deputy ministry as a professional in the field of technology in general, and armoured with this capacity, my sole priority will be to work hard to achieve the goals that primarily the president himself has set in this area, but also which the citizens and businesses of this country expect from this deputy ministry,” Damianou said.

Taking over the justice ministry from Anna Procopiou is Marios Hartsiotis. Calls for her to resign followed racist riots in Limassol in September, which saw shops owned by immigrants trashed and people hurt by mobs that beat up foreigners.

“My focus in relation to the responsibilities of this ministry will be the continuation and completion of the most important work of justice reform, which has already begun, certainly the modernisation of prisons, but also the most serious issue that concerns every Cypriot citizen, which is, at last, the establishment of a sense of security in the country,” he added.

New defence minister Vasilis Palmas, who took over from Michalis Giorgallas, said: “I believe that as far as the policy axes and policy implementation of the government’s positions and views on defence issues are concerned, we will discuss them at length when and if I officially assume my duties as Defence Minister tomorrow.”

He added that everyone should work together to implement the president’s governance plan.

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