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Flurry of activity as new government gears up
AFTER A full day of comings and goings by politicians and businessmen to the DISY offices in Nicosia yesterday, President-elect Nicos Anastasiades said that by today, the names of his new cabinet would be announced.
Speaking after a number of meetings with potential cabinet members, Anastasiades said that consultations with other parties to form a government of national unity had gone well.
The President-elect, who will be sworn in by parliament tomorrow, making him the 7th President of the Cyprus Republic, said he was in constant dialogue with DIKO, EVROKO and the Greens. “And I must say I’m fully satisfied with the consultations so far,” he added.
“I believe that through the convergence of positions on important matters, we can form a government that can address the major national issues of our country,” he said.
Anastasiades spoke with EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou, who supported Giorgos Lillikas in the elections, and was told that the socialist party would take a positive approach to the new government without wishing to participate in it.
The President-elect added that an announcement on the new cabinet would be made today at the latest.
The rumour mill went into overdrive yesterday as known political and business figures walked in and out of the DISY headquarters on Pindarou Street throughout the day.
Former attorney-general Alecos Markides was one of the last to be seen by reporters in the evening but said he was there to offer his opinion as a legal expert in relation to a number of bills prepared by Anastasiades and his campaign team that the President-elect wanted to submit to parliament. Markides said he was not going there to discuss being a Cyprus problem negotiator or to discuss any political appointment with Anastasiades.
Former defence minister Socrates Hasikos made two visits, with his name reportedly connected with the interior ministry, though DIKO’s former interior and health minister Christos Patsalides has also been linked to the post, as has Andreas Christodoulou from the Land Registry.
Former head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) Manthos Mavrommatis - tipped to take the post of the sought after commerce ministry- also paid a visit to DISY HQ but the name of current KEVE chairman Phidias Pilides was the one bandied about as a possible commerce minister last night.
Anastasiades also held court for DIKO leader and coalition partner Marios Garoyian, EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris, Greens leader Ioanna Panayiotou, and DISY MPs Christos Stylianides and Tasos Mitsopoulos.
According to reports flying around yesterday, Stylianides would be made government spokesman, while Mitsopoulos - who enjoys close ties with the Church - has come under heavy pressure from the leadership to take the education ministry portfolio, although reports connected him to the communication ministry as well. Mitsopoulos is believed to have shown initial reluctance due to personal ambitions within the party structure.
Other unconfirmed reports had DISY deputy Ionas Nicolaou linked to the justice ministry and auditor-general Chrystalla Georghadji to the labour ministry. Reports later in the evening yesterday said Georghadji had rejected the ministry and mentioned current DISY spokesman, Harris Georgiades, as a possibility.
Defence could well go to DIKO deputy Fytos Constantinou or Fotis Fotiou while the agriculture ministry is reportedly reserved for a member of EVROKO, with spokesman Michalis Georgallas mentioned as a possibility. Reportedly four ministries would go to DIKO which backed Anastasiades in the elections.
Philippos Patsalis, head of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, is reportedly being considered to head the health ministry, as is DISY’s Stella Kyriakidou, and DIKO’s Vassilis Palmas who served as government spokesman during the government of Tassos Papadopoulos.
Garoyian yesterday brushed aside the issue of how many ministries DIKO would take over, saying the important thing was to form a government that would be effective and reliable to address the serious problems facing Cyprus.
“So, let’s not steer things towards numerical equations. That is not the point. It’s not how many posts each party gets. The key is how you deal with the challenges and that is what concerns us,” he said.
Reports also suggested DIKO’s general secretary Kyriacos Kenevezos would get the education ministry.
Speaking after his meeting with Anastasiades, Syllouris said his party would be represented in the new cabinet though he ruled out his own candidacy.
“Demetris Syllouris will not participate in the cabinet, despite everything that’s been written,” said Syllouris, adding that names and ministries have not been discussed yet.
EVROKO voted by conscience in the first round of elections though its leadership backed Anastasiades in the runoff. The party is represented in parliament by two MPs, Syllouris and Nicos Koutsou. The latter, and a significant number of party members, refused to back Anastasiades in the second round, preferring instead Giorgos Lillikas’ candidacy.
Speaking to state broadcaster after her meeting with the president-elect, the Greens’ Panayiotou said she was offered the role of Environment Commissioner, to replace the outgoing and hugely successful Charalambos Theopemptou.
She added that Anastasiades pledged to institutionalise the post and back it up with an Environment Council, which the commissioner would chair, and which would be able to prescribe policy, not just advise on environmental issues.
The President-elect also committed to setting up a green development fund, which Panayiotou said would go some way to creating new green jobs.
So far the only confirmed posts are those of the ministers of foreign affairs and finance, to be taken up by Ioannis Kasoulides and Michalis Sarris respectively.
Christopher Pissarides, awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics, is to head an economic policy council, an advisory body with no executive powers, which will be directly answerable to the President.
Speaking to the state broadcaster yesterday, Pissarides said the council would play a similar role to the council of economic advisors in America.
“We will examine all aspects of the Cypriot economy, domestic and external, consult with the president on what policy is needed to meet the government’s goals and policies, and what the economy needs to increase competition, economic recovery, lower unemployment and a return to the good days of before the crisis,” he said.