Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (C) delivers a speech after casting his ballot at a polling station in the coastal city of Limassol on February 4, 2018 during the second round of the Cyprus presidential elections. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Cyprus gets new foreign minister in cabinet shake-up

NICOSIA: Cyprus will have a new foreign envoy but keep the same finance minister, it was announced Tuesday, as the country seeks to restart unity talks and boost its economy.
The cabinet reshuffle comes after President Nicos Anastasiades won re-election for a second term earlier this month on promises of resuming negotiations to unify the Mediterranean island and cementing a fragile economic recovery.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides will take up the key post of foreign minister in the new administration to be sworn in on March 1.
The 44-year-old joined the diplomatic corps in 1999 before serving as government spokesman from 2013.
He was widely expected to be given the position after veteran diplomat Ioannis Kasoulides, 69, decided to retire from office.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades is to keep his job after having navigated Cyprus out of a painful bailout deal, while George Lakkotrypis remains in charge of energy and a booming tourism sector.
Since his re-election on February 4, Anastasiades, 71, has sought to appoint ministers of wider public acceptance and without strong political allegiances.
He has added one woman to the cabinet, with parliamentary official Vasiliki Anastasiadou to become transport and communications minister.
But the new 11-member cabinet will still only include two women.
Other new faces include lawyer Savvas Angelides as defense minister.
Education ministry official Costas Hambiaouris has been promoted to minister, while businessman Constantinos Ioannou is tasked with introducing the new national health scheme as health minister.
Anastasiades has pledged fresh talks to end the nearly 44-year partition between the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus in the south and a Turkish-backed statelet in the north.
UN-backed negotiations collapsed in July last year after coming closer than ever to sealing a deal.
In his first term, Cyprus made an impressive recovery from a 2013 financial crisis after he agreed to a harsh 10-billion euro (more than $12-billion) bailout.


Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rally in Taiwan

Updated 2 min 29 sec ago
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Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rally in Taiwan

  • China cut off contact with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s government shortly after her inauguration in 2016
  • China and Taiwan separated amid civil war in 1949 and China considers the island part of its territory to be taken control of by force if necessary
TAIPEI, Taiwan: Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators gathered in Taiwan’s capital on Saturday to express their disapproval with China’s stance toward their island.
China cut off contact with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s government shortly after her inauguration in 2016 and has been ratcheting up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan in a bid to compel her to agree to Beijing’s insistence that the self-governing island democracy is a part of China.
“I want to loudly say no to China,” said 43-year-old demonstrator Ping Cheng-wen, who is self-employed. “I just don’t agree with China’s rhetoric. We have our own sovereignty, and Taiwan is a country.”
Another demonstrator at the rally in Taipei, Kuo Jung-min, an 85-year-old Presbyterian church pastor and Hebrew language professor at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, said pro-unification advocates should move to China if they think it is a better place to live.
“We have to be real Taiwanese, not fake Chinese,” Kuo said. “There is no use being Chinese. Those who advocate pro-unification still live in Taiwan. If China is that good, why don’t they just move to China?“
In an Oct. 10 National Day address, Tsai called on China not to be a “source of conflict” and pledged to boost Taiwan’s defenses against Beijing’s military threats. Tsai said the best way to defend Taiwan was to “make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world,” while remaining nonconfrontational in its attitude toward China.
China and Taiwan separated amid civil war in 1949 and China considers the island part of its territory to be taken control of by force if necessary.