Crisis-hit Cyprus gets new Cabinet, Finance Min
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Last Updated: Friday, August 05, 2011, 20:36
Nicosia: Cyprus's communist President Demetris Christofias swore in a new cabinet on Friday, giving fellow party member and new Finance Minister Kikis Kazamias the task of bringing the island back from the brink of economic meltdown.

Christofias reshuffled his government after a munitions blast killed 13 people and knocked out the Mediterranean island's biggest power plant on July 11, leading to rolling daily power cuts, economic disruption and public uproar.

"The government will take all the necessary actions and will take all necessary measures to tackle the difficult economic situation," Christofias said at the swearing-in ceremony.

"Our country is passing through critical times," he added, with eurozone member Cyprus having recently been downgraded by two international ratings agencies and increasingly touted as a possible candidate for an EU bailout.

Cyprus, which was already struggling to get its finances in order, was left reeling after the explosion, which all but crushed any hopes of economic growth this year.

The need for a new cabinet arose after centre-right party Diko abandoned its partnership with the Christofias on Wednesday, saying talks had collapsed over measures to address economic and political woes.

Last week, Christofias had called on his cabinet to resign after Diko urged a reshuffle.

Kazamias said he was upbeat about steering Cyprus out of its economic quagmire.

"I am naturally optimistic that everything will contribute positively for the boat to take a correct and steady course," he told reporters soon after being sworn in.

"My reasons for optimism are also on the issue of financial markets. We have every reason to be optimistic since each of us will do our share," said Kazamias, a member of Christofias's AKEL party.

Asked about the possibility of Cyprus entering the EU support mechanism for eurozone members, he said: "There is no such issue at this time."

Career diplomat Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, a woman and independent, was named the new foreign minister, and Demetris Eliades was appointed to head the defence ministry.

The ministers of interior, labour and justice remained unchanged, Neoclis Sylikiotis, Sotiroulla Charalambous and Loukas Louka kept their jobs.

Christofias's party is now in a clear minority in Parliament, which could make it difficult for the President to push through legislation.

The party has only 19 deputies in the 56-member House of Representatives.


First Published: Friday, August 05, 2011, 20:36

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