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31 May, 2024
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It's dangerous around here

'Mr. Hatzigiannis will have to learn too much, too quickly, even with the best of intentions and the most innovative ideas.'

George Kakouris

George Kakouris

There has been a lot of discussion about the new President's selection of Michalis Hatzigiannis to fill the role of Deputy Minister of Culture, and it can be challenging to separate reasonable criticism from elitism. Therefore, we must distinguish them. Even though Mr. Hatzigiannis might not fit everyone's definition of "artistic", his appointment is not problematic. It is only a problem because there is no time for experimentation six months after the creation of a deputy ministry with complex and specific issues.

Mr. Hatzigiannis will have to learn too much, too quickly, even with the best of intentions and the most innovative ideas. In contrast to the musicians, visual artists, writers, theater, and cinema professionals active in Cyprus, it is not enough that he is an artist because quality or creativity is not controlled here. Not even the person's prior work experience is taken into account.

Because of this, it is not appropriate to compare the biographies of Hatzigiannis and Toumazis in order to imply that Mr. Toumazis is indispensable or that Mr. Hatzigiannis is the wrong choice, as many people have done. But to emphasize the increased difficulty of the position at this particular time, and to say "at least he didn't give him Finance or Energy" is not true.  As if culture is "easy".

There were options, from artists and creators with years of involvement in artists' associations, technocrats from the former Cultural Services or the State Department of Culture who would simply be called upon to continue the work they started, and even producers and directors in television who produce popular work despite the constraints of Cypriot society. The problem is not Mr. Hatzigiannis himself, who may well succeed, but the fact that a superficial selection seems to have been made.

The new President's "foul" is on record, but there is no longer any need to cultivate toxicity. The jokes of the early days with Hatzigiannis' lyrics have nothing more to add. Michael Hatzigiannis learned from the beginning how difficult politics is, and how bitter and suspicious artists are after years of abandonment by the state, and now he can approach his task with humility and an open mind by learning, letting the mechanism set up work, and seeking guidance from people in the culture he trusts.

But because the Hatzigiannis controversy has dominated social media, it's possible that we failed to consider the other options with the same level of care and intensity. Like that of Makis Keravnos, a former minister who joined the Hellenic Bank right after completing his term, who has strange social media opinions, and who, according to reports from colleagues I trust more than Marinos Sizopoulos' denials, came out of the cold in response to the reaction of the head of the EDF to the appointment of Tasos Yasemidis, a technocrat whose competence is universally acknowledged.

Or the veto by Marios Karoyan that resulted in the rejection of Anastasia Papadopoulou, a lawyer whose merit is acknowledged even by the most vociferous opponent of DIKO. And even though they occasionally do not meet the high standards that the President sets during the election, these "fouls" should not be used as a justification to invalidate the selections of a number of other candidates who have thus far given no cause for suspicion.

New ministers are, yes, given time credit, as the cliché goes. But for the President himself, the test has begun. One of the first comments I heard from a politician was that Christodoulides should not have raised the bar so high. I disagree. The President was right to raise the bar because that is what the people who voted for him and made a difference want, and that is what the country needs. But he was wrong not to go over the top. Hopefully, he will learn from his mistakes, which he will continue to make because mistakes are human. Besides, as Mr. Hatzigiannis suddenly learned (and allow me one last play on lyrics) they are dangerous here.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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