Welcoming his new cabinet on Wednesday, President Nikos Christodoulides urged his ministers, deputy ministers and commissioners to turn a blind eye to baseless criticism and work tirelessly to serve the public interest.

“The position you are taking on is one of duty and service. It demands dedication and personal sacrifices,” he said.

“We are all accountable to the Cypriot people and only them. We serve the public and not the private interests and we will be judged by our results. Our task is far from easy and when something old changes, the resistance is strong. I am sure this will not frighten you.”

Christodoulides was referring to growing discontent among outgoing ministers, many who found out they were being replaced through press reports, likely leaked by the president himself in an interview he gave over the cabinet reshuffle.

During the swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace, Vasilis Palmas took over as defence minister; Maria Panayiotou as agriculture minister; Marios Hartsiotis as justice minister; and Michalis Damianos as health minister.

In addition, Nikodemos Damianou was appointed deputy minister of innovation, research and digital policy.

The new Commissioner for Citizens is Panayiotis Palates, Commissioner for Mountainous Regions Charalambos Christophinis, and Commissioner for the Environment Antonia Theodosiou.

Moreover, Marilena Raouna was named as the Deputy Minister of European Affairs, however she will be sworn in after cabinet ratifies her role as this is a new deputy ministry.

Christodoulides urged all new appointments to “work tirelessly and studiously, relying on experts and technocrats. Always remain in touch with citizens and all those affected by our policies.”

Thanking the outgoing ministers, Christodoulides said that even in the 10-month span since their appointment, solutions have been streamlined to resolve chronic problems that have affected citizens.

This includes increasing the minimum wage to €1,000 a month, regulating the issue of CoLA, introducing a new system for student evaluations, tackling refugee housing through the ‘ktizo’ scheme, implementing the mortgage-to-rent scheme and passing the foreclosures bill into law, Christodoulides said.

He urged the new appointments to collaborate with all organised bodies, social partners, independent officials and political parties.

“Close your ears to the sirens, all kinds of sirens. This is what I do. Focus only on carrying out your work for the public interest. Close your ears to baseless criticism, seek out constructive criticism and do not steer away from your goal,” he warned.

“For our government, it is a one-way street: work and only work. This is what we are judged by. When are policies are implemented and beneficial for the public, this is our reward.”

The president underlined that the new appointments have a mandate to intensify and accelerate the government’s programme which has been on track for months.

He described it as “an ambitious and bold programme centred on people and improving their quality of life”.

Christodoulides stressed that solving the Cyprus problem is the government’s top priority and hard work is being carried out to achieve this “without ignoring the challenges”.

“With a credible and proud foreign policy, a stronger defence, an active role in our turbulent region, and by implementing policies that strengthen our state, economy, business and the rule of law, we will achieve all that we have promised to the Cypriot people.”