Greek Cyprus swears in new ministers after coalition walkout
NICOSIA - Agence France-Presse
"My only criterion is the best interests of the country not political games," Anastasiades told his new ministers. AFP PhotoGreek Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades swore in three new ministers Friday and reassigned another in a mini-reshuffle triggered by a walkout by his coalition partner over resumed reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots.
The three new ministers are award-winning researcher Philippos Patsalis (health), academic Costas Kadis (education) and economist Marios Demetriades (communications).
Former communications minister Tasos Mitsopoulos was moved to defence.
"My only criterion is the best interests of the country not political games," Anastasiades told his new ministers.
"My political presence all these years is the best answer to those who are under the false impression that I can be controlled," he added.
Despite the new faces in cabinet, the services of Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis were retained. He resigned from centre-right DIKO after it walked out of government.
DIKO criticised the president for keeping on Lakkotrypis and for appointing Demetriades, who is a party member, although it is unclear how long he will now be able to remain one.
The energy portfolio is an important one for the recession-hit island, which is relying on untapped offshore gas reserves to boost the troubled Greek Cypriot economy.
All 11 cabinet ministers tendered their resignations last month to give the conservative president leeway to carry out a wider reshuffle but he asked them to remain at their posts.
DIKO, which held four cabinet posts alongside Anastasiades's rightwing DISY, pulled out of the coalition in protest at what it said were excessive Greek Cypriot concessions in a February 11 joint statement which relaunched UN-backed talks on ending the island's four-decade division.
Since the coalition split, the government has no longer been able to command a majority in parliament.
came a year after Anastasiades took power in February 2013 on a platform of agreeing a bailout with lenders to save the eurozone country from bankruptcy.
He has now turned his attention to the peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots after winning praise from international lenders for putting debt-ridden Greek Cyprus back on track.
The international community has welcomed the new peace initiative, with greater input from Washington seen as enabling a breakthrough after two years of stalemate.