Present-elect Nicos Anastasiades announced his ‘Dream Team’ cabinet on Wednesday, comprising technocrats, politicians and academics who will deal with a multi-billion rescue from international lenders.
Having won a landslide victory in last Sunday’s second round of presidential elections, Anastasiades has a mandate to combat unemployment and reduce a huge public sector deficit, while getting Cyprus back on a path of growth, economic stability and fiscal sustainability.
On Monday, the 66-year-old lawyer who headed the opposition party Democratic Rally (DISY) for 16 years, announced his key cabinet members and advisors in a ‘national unity government’, with the outgoing communist party Akel refusing to take part. The socialist Edek party said it would support the new government without wishing to participate in it.
European Popular Party deputy chairman and EuroMP Ioannis Kasoulides will return to the Foreign Ministry after a ten-year gap, to help improve the credibility of Cyprus that has been shut out of international markets and sought an EU-IMF bailout of about 17.5 bln euros, equal to the island’s GDP.
Michalis Sarris, Finance Minister in the previous administration five years ago when Cyprus joined the Eurozone, is returning to his old office to oversee urgent negotiations with the Troika of international lenders that include austerity measures in the public sector, reforms and privatisations.
He will attend the Eurozone meeting in Brussels on Monday, possibly facing irate German opposition about Russian bank deposits in Cyprus, with others raising concern about reforms and sustainability of Cypriot debt.
Rounding up the trio of Anastasiades’ ‘Dream Team’ is Christophoros Pissarides, winner of the 2010 Nobel Economics prize, who will head the newly established Economic Policy Council to advise the president and set Cyprus on a course of growth with a focus on competitiveness and foreign direct investments. He will probably be flanked by five or “up to ten” other economists, academics and business leaders.
Anastasiades will be sworn in at a ceremony at the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon and immediately gets down to work with the Council of Ministers taking office at 11am on Friday. His cabinet includes five members from the ruling DISY party, four from the junior coalition partner centrist Democratic Party (Diko), and one from the right of centre European Party (Evroko).
The rest of the Cabinet members are:
Communications and Works: Tasos Mitsopoulos (DISY spokesman);
Interior: Socratis Hasikos (DISY, former Defence Minister);
Justice and Public Order: Ionas Nicolaou (DISY, House Legal Affairs chairman);
Labour and Social Insurance: Harris Georgiades (DISY, parliamentary spokesman);
Defence: Fotis Fotiou (DIKO, former Minister of Agriculture);
Education and Culture: Kyriakos Kenevezos (DIKO);
Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism: Georgios Lakkotrypis (DIKO, Director of Microsoft, Central & East Europe);
Health: Petros Petrides (DIKO, former Director of Nicosia General Hospital);
Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment: Nicos Kouyialis (Evroko);
Government Spokesman: Christos Stylianides (DISY, same as 10 years ago).
Anastasiades has also appointed Constantinos Petrides, the Director of the party President’s Office as Under Secretary to the President, similar to a Chief of Staff.
However, the new administration is male-dominated, with the exception being the Environment Commissioner, with the Greens Party Secretary General Ioanna Panayiotou replacing Charalambos Theopemptou in that office.
Anastasiades has revived the post of Presidential Commissioner responsible for overseas Cypriots and religious groups, appointing Kate Clerides, former MP and daughter of the DISY party founder and former President Glafcos Clerides.
The new president has also created a new office for the Commissioner for the Reform of the Public Service, appointing Emanouella Moushiouta Lambrianides, who will try to consolidate the huge civil service that has become an unbearable burden on the state budget, and introduce meritocracy in the hiring system of government workers.
Panayiotis Antoniou, Director General of the DISY party takes over as Director of the Office of the President.
Anastasiades has also been consulting with legal experts, such as former Attorney General Alecos Markides, to introduce an urgent bill in parliament to create the positions of Deputy Ministers at seven government ministries, where more women are expected to be appointed. The new Deputy Ministers will not have a say in Cabinet meetings, but will assist government ministers and represent them at EU meetings, where diplomats have been unable to attend in recent years.
The appointments have also vacated six parliamentary seats for the ruling DISY, with MP and respected theologian Andreas Pitsillides replacing Foreign Minister Kasoulides in the European Parliament for the remainder of the current term.
Pitsillides’ parliamentary seat will be taken up by economist and former MP Prodhromos Prodhromou, while the remaining new MPs for the next four years will be Andreas Themistocleous, lawyer Maria Kyriakou, pharmacist Nicos Nouris, Rikos Mappourides and Aristotelis Misos.