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25 July, 2024
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Health Minister's high-stakes gamble under scrutiny

Kanari's actions prompt calls for Christodoulides to reassert control

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

As time goes by, the Christodoulides government resembles a family soap opera, which before it becomes tiresome and dull, captivates once again as a new protagonist emerges, renewing interest. Health Minister Popi Kanari took the spotlight last week, attempting an intervention that goes beyond the boundaries of her authority. She sought to personally investigate the authenticity of the degrees of the Ministry's general director, Christina Giannaki. She also sought to determine whether Ms. Giannaki's English language skills were sufficient, a prerequisite for her appointment as the general director.

As reported by "Philenews", Ms. Kanari sent a letter to her general director with a copy to President Christodoulides, requesting authorization to address the issue of the authenticity of Christina Giannaki's degrees by conducting inquiries at the University of Cairo and other academic institutions. Concurrently, the Health Minister suggested convening a meeting at her office, to be conducted in English, with the presence of two state officials, in order to assess whether Christina Giannaki speaks English well.

While this matter needs clarification, it is evident that this is not the appropriate approach. Furthermore, Ms. Kanari appears to have a misguided notion that as a member of the Cabinet, she possesses a generalized, boundless authority, under which she can substitute for the police authorities, the Attorney General, the Auditor General, the State Health Services Organization, and possibly others, to whom she should have turned, acknowledging that the examination of the authenticity of her general director's degrees falls under their jurisdiction.

Within the framework of this political irrationality, she even decided to conduct "examinations" in her office regarding Christina Giannaki's English language proficiency, potentially replacing the British Council in assessing English language competence. Assuming Ms. Kanari concludes that Ms. Giannaki does not speak English well, what will happen? Will the Health Minister become a judge, elect herself as a magistrate, and dismiss her general director? With what authority?

The claims of Ms. Kanari not only reveal chaos in the ministry responsible for ensuring our health but also indicate ignorance, at the very least, about the responsibilities of members of this government and even the separation of powers in the Cypriot state. These notions echo a mindset from another era. In 2023, it is inconceivable for a minister in a democratic state to believe she has the right to demand authorization to take the law into her own hands. To personally investigate, assess, and decide the future of anyone. Even if someone's degrees are not genuine, there are competent bodies, institutions, and courts tasked with investigating, evaluating, and making decisions on such matters.

Therefore, this issue of the mindset of government officials transcends the Kanari-Giannaki dispute. It would be wise for President Christodoulides to partially follow the suggestion of the Health Minister and convene a meeting in his own office. This would allow him to evaluate not only the mindset but also the knowledge of the ministers he has chosen, concerning their responsibilities and the separation of powers, which unfortunately is not self-evident to some members of the government. Since, unlike Ms. Kanari, President Christodoulides has the power to send some people home, he should finally exercise it. Now, not in September.

Otherwise, the government will continue to break its own records for television viewership, for the wrong reasons, week after week. It will contribute to solidifying the perception of the Cypriot state in our minds as an undeniable banana republic. "After all, why hide it?" Note*: One of the favorite phrases of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, which we borrowed as it aptly fits the present situation.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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