Some outgoing ministers could not contain their dissatisfaction over the cabinet reshuffle during the handover ceremonies on Wednesday, ranging from pointedly not thanking the president, or by referencing the “sudden replacement” they were hit with.

President Nikos Christodoulides must have been expecting this, as his own speech during the swearing-in ceremony had its own hints.

He told the new appointments: “when something old changes, the resistance is strong. I am sure this will not frighten you.”

Most joyous and all-smiles was outgoing Justice Minister Anna Procopiou who delivered her final speech as minister enthusiastically, bidding farewell and thanking a number of colleagues and police officials.

However, she pointedly did not express any form of gratitude to Christodoulides, as most ministers sought to – at least for the sake of decorum, to thank the president for entrusting them with the post.

It was evident his handling of the matter though was not appreciated, as many ministers appeared to have found out they were getting the boot by press reports, likely from his own leaks during an interview.

It eventually led deputy research minister Philippos Hadjizacharias to resign.

Asked during the handover ceremony why he quit, he kept his response brief and said “for my dignity”.

Outgoing Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas thanked Christodoulides for their collaboration, underlining that the president had supported every decision he had taken without interfering.

“Despite how short our term was and my sudden replacement, I am proud to say mission accomplished.”

Notably, the most palpably tense and awkward handover was between outgoing Health Minister Popi Kanari and permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki, where the two avoided eye contact and did not adhere to protocol during the ceremony. The two women have had a strained relationship since Kanari took over 10 months ago. The former health minister also pointedly did not thank the president during her farewell speech.

Where are the women?

Women’s group Pogo slammed Christodoulides’ new appointments saying his election pledge to have his cabinet split 50/50 between men and women was far from reality.

“Out of 11 ministries, only two are women, meaning 18 per cent,” they said.

Women seem to dominate the number of deputy ministries as five out of seven posts are held by women.

“Rather than combating gender stereotypes, this fuels them, as deputy ministers do not participate in the decision-making process in the cabinet, with women deputy ministers taking on a complementary role.”

In his last speech at the helm of the agriculture ministry, Petros Xenophontos said he had dedicated himself to resolving many problems that were plaguing his portfolio, including halloumi, Akamas and Pentakomo.

agriculture ministers

Petros Xenophontos and his replacement as agriculture minister Maria Panayiotou

Taking over, newly appointed Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou who was formerly the environment commissioner had tears in her eyes as she began her speech.

Panayiotou is the first woman to take up the particular ministry.

She thanked the president, the First Lady and Xenophontos, saying that the circular economy, sustainable management of forests and biodiversity, fire prevention and climate change were among her top priorities.

Procopiou stressed that in her 10-month tenure, the ministry managed to implement 70 per cent of the five-year government plans, streamlining efforts for gender equality, violence against women and juvenile prisons.

The new Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis said he did not prepare a speech and was prepared to dive into work, including i-justice and e-justice, promising to all Cypriot citizens worried for their safety, that he would do everything in his hand to ensure they felt secure.

Reflecting on his tumultuous 10 months as minister, Hadjizacharias said his appointment began with the tumu hack on the land registry and the systems subsequent collapse, as well as the state servers that went down after a water leak.

He heralded the tender for smart cities which were announced under his leadership, as well as 16 projects to ensure state cybersecurity. Newly appointed Nicodemos Damianou said he was determined to achieve the goals put forth by the president, that would transform Cyprus into a modern state.

“I come here as a professional from the technology sphere, and my goal is to channel my knowledge and expertise in a way that can help us meet these expectations.”

palmas handover

New Defence Minister Vasilis Palmas