Cyprus’ new cabinet of ministers have been in office less than two weeks since they formally assumed their new roles on March 1 after being selected by two-time elected Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who clinched the election in early February.
Outgoing cabinet members “raised the bar,” said President Anastasiades at the last ministerial meeting with outgoing cabinet members. The old cabinet stepped down at the end of February after helping the president to successfully turn the Cypriot economy around within a single presidential term.
The country’s finance minister, who oversaw Cyprus’ exit from a multibillion-euro rescue program, Harris Georgiades, remained at his post for the president’s second term in office. This was a relief to both domestic and international audiences as Georgiades has been credited with the country’s economic revival, and both Cypriots and global markets are hoping that the GDP continues to chug along at a similar pace.
Unsurprisingly, there are a host of new kids on the block, after President Anastasiades announced earlier that he planned to form a government from a wide political spectrum and with more female ministers.
He decided to give government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, the role of foreign minister, following Ioannis Kasoulides’ announcement to retire. This offers a clear indication of the president’s level of seriousness when it comes to reunifying the island, one of the main topics he focused on during his presidential campaign. Similar to most foreign ministry members, Christodoulides holds a hardline stance on the Cyprus problem. His appointment hints at the position the president will take as he moves to reignite UN-brokered peace talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı this year in the hopes of liberating the island from its ongoing domestic dispute.
The president did indeed increase the number of women in the cabinet, placing parliamentary official Vasiliki Anastasiadou as transport and communications minister.
However, with less than one-quarter of cabinet positions filled by women, the country still has a long way to go in achieving equal representation of the sexes in leadership. Cyprus currently ranks equally low with Greece as having the smallest number of female national parliamentary representatives in southern Europe.
For his part, President Anastasiades also named another woman, Natasa Pilides, as deputy minister of the country’s brand new ministry, the Deputy Ministry of Shipping.
Cyprus has long been a seafaring nation, located along vital trade routes, which makes merchant shipping an important aspect of its economy. Now, the industry is getting a boon with a ministry solely dedicated to the sector that is contributing heavily to GDP growth.
A transformation from the Department of Merchant Shipping, the new ministry will have more resources to support the island nation, which according to the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, is the biggest ship management centre in the EU, and one of the three biggest in the world. In 2017, Cyprus’ shipping sector contributed €1 billion to the Cypriot economy, or seven percent of GDP.
The industry has been growing in Cyprus since 2010, when the EU-approved tonnage tax system went into effect. After the system began, shipping companies in Cyprus increased by more than 65 percent and revenue from shipping rose by 25 percent, according to CSC.
This will only continue to increase with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Just last month UK-regulated ship insurers were preparing plans to open new outposts in Cyprus, while some Greek ship owners, previously based in London, have already moved to Cyprus. “The ultimate goal is to strengthen Cyprus shipping and its consolidation as an advanced, global shipping service centre,” said Pilides, who left her role as Director General of Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency for this new opportunity.
In total, five new ministers joined the 14-member cabinet. Cypriot lawyer, Savvas Angelides, will head the Defence Ministry and Costas Hambiaouris was named education minister. With his new team fully intact and already hard at work, speculators will soon see if this new cabinet line up bears as much fruit as the president hopes.