Cyprus’ new Finance Minister Haris Georgiades was sworn in yesterday following his predecessor’s resignation hours after a probe was launched into how the island was pushed to the verge of bankruptcy.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades cautioned him of the “difficult days ahead.”
They would require “firstly, collectivity and, secondly, consistency and fiscal discipline and all those measures that will contribute to kick-starting the economy as soon as possible,” he said at the swearing in ceremony.
“I have no doubt that you will not only accomplish your task to the full, but in the best way possible that is worthy of your predecessor,” Anastasiades said.
Georgiades, a 40-year-old economist who had been labor minister, formally took up his new post a day after Michalis Sarris said he was stepping down to cooperate with judges investigating the failure of Laiki Bank, where he was chairman for much of last year.
The bank’s collapse was a major contributor to the island’s near financial meltdown and need for a crippling eurozone bailout.
Also sworn in yesterday was Zeta Emilianidou, permanent secretary at the Commerce Ministry, who becomes the first woman in the Anastasiades Cabinet, taking over from Georgiades at the Ministry of Labor.
Anastasiades said on Tuesday he had accepted Sarris’s resignation with “sadness” and lauded his “high political ethos” for stepping down.
Sarris said he believed stepping down was “the right thing” to do to facilitate the investigators’ work.
His departure came as the government wrapped up talks with international lenders that will open the way for Cyprus to receive a 10 billion euro (US$12.8 billion) bailout, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.
“We have completed the forming of the memorandum, which is a precondition for the loan agreement,” with the period to implement the deal extended by two years to 2018 to “ease pressure on the economy,” he said.