Four new ministers were sworn in, in a mini-reshuffle prompted by a Diko walkout with a defiant President Anastasiades defending his right to choose his own government.
Ministers of Defence Tasos Mitsopoulos, Education Costas Kadis, Communications Marios Demetriades and Health Philippos Patsalis were sworn in during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
In addressing the new ministers, following the affirmation ceremony, Anastasiades said “your selection was not fortuitous, but it is due to your excellent academic and technocratic qualifications, but also on your distinguished standing in Cypriot society”.
Referring to the work performed by the outgoing ministers, the president thanked them warmly “for their excellent cooperation” and congratulated them “for their valuable contribution during this first year of governing in which we averted the bankruptcy of the country and placed the foundations for a new hopeful perspective”.
Commenting on the political background to the Diko split and whether he should have kept on its ministers, Anastasiades said he has been tormented by dilemmas over the past few days regarding the reshuffle.
He said that he was torn between “respecting an ungrounded and unjustifiable decision or accepting the rules of political ethics as these have been forged in our political system”.
“The institution of the President of the Republic had to prevail over the person Nicos Anastasiades and as a guardian of unity I accepted with sorrow the resignation of three acclaimed and close associates,” Anastasiades said.
“My only criterion is the best interest of the country and not political games. My political presence all these years is the best reply to those who are deluded to think that I acted or could act under anyone’s guardianship,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the new ministers, Mitsopoulos thanked the president for their appointment and gave assurances that “we will work tirelessly and conscientiously to meet the expectations of society.
“Firstly to bring about modernising structural changes and reforms that the country and society needs and secondly to contribute to restarting the economy and creating a better Cyprus.”
Mitsopoulos also said that the protection of the country’s integrity is a paramount task but also a great honour, noting however that he is taking over the ministry at a difficult time.
“I am aware that the National Guard is at a stage of reorganisation which includes the reduction of military service in order to render the army flexible and competent to handle the threats of the continuing Turkish occupation, but at the same time to change into a modern organisation.
“The responsibility is enormous, but so is the potential of the staff at the ministry and the National Guard,” he said.
During the ceremony Patsalis said that the Ministry of Health is starting a new patient-centered course and thanked his predecessor Petros Petrides for setting the bar high and preparing the ground for the implementation of the national health scheme.
“It is my personal belief that nothing we do will matter if it does not serve people and their needs,” Patsalis noted, adding that his vision is to provide high quality health for all.
New Education Minister Costas Kadis stressed that he is aware of the significant responsibility he is undertaking and gave assurances that he will continue the work that his predecessor has started at the ministry.
“On this course and effort everyone is needed, from the ministry members who we will use to the fullest extent, the institutions involved in education and culture, parents, students, university members, educational organisations and everyone else in the sector,” Kadis said.