Interview with Mrs Egli Pantelaki

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What does a normal day at the ministry entail?

Well, it entails about 7 to 10 meetings of many different subjects, with either the Minister or my colleagues, as well as other parties involved with the Ministry of Education and Culture. It also includes being present at various events like this one, visiting schools and Universities, as well as attending cultural activities, which also occupies a significant part of my time. I am also the President of the board of directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation, so this is a parallel job that I do.

In addition, I go through a lot of files and try to solve various problems, as every day is a problem solving day.  I try to be efficient and quick in taking decisions. This is not an easy job, but it is a challenging one.

 

What is your favourite memory from your time as a student at the English School of Nicosia?

It would have to be the musical events that were organised, for example the choir, the concerts and the Greek night.  Music has always been my hobby, so these were the most exciting times for me.

 

What is the most fundamental skill that your studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science have taught you in terms of getting the Ministry running as efficiently as possible?

At the LSE we learned how to apply critical thinking, which is a very important aspect of my job. This quality is also what we want to promote in our schools. This involves learning to make a synthesis of various views, looking at things from a critical prospective, speaking your mind and making fast decisions. It also is crucial not to be dogmatic, but rather to learn to listen to many views and opinions, and then make your decision accordingly. This I consider important. I believe I am a democratic person, who uses a human approach concerning management, and this is another skill that I acquired from the LSE.

 

Having been involved with music from a very young age, and now being President of the board of directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation, what is the significance of music in your life?

I was involved with music since I was 4 years old, as my father was a Music Teacher. I remember students coming at home, having their music lessons with my father, who bought a little piano for me when I was 3 or 4 years old. I remember listening, as the students were having their lessons, and one day I said to my father “Come on dad, I want to show you something”, and then played for him, on my little piano, by ear, what I had listened the students play to, on their instruments. My parents thought that this was promising, and so this was the start of my studies in music, which I then finished at the Ethnikon Odeon, having also obtained qualifications from the Royal Schools of Music. With the qualifications I had at the time, I could get a job as a Music Teacher, but I chose to study Economics and Management, and keep music as a very nice hobby at the side. I would say that this involvement with music has enriched my life and it relaxes me from the stress of everyday routine.  I feel grateful that, as I am approaching the end of my career, music has entered my life in an official capacity through my chairmanship of the board of the directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation.

 

Working in the Ministry, where the Minister may change often, how do you manage to maintain continuity in your endeavours, while co-operating with different people who wave different mind sets and different approaches to problems?

Well this is one of the features of the job, the fact that Ministers may change. I have been Permanent Secretary for 9 years, 4 and a half being at the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, and the rest in the Ministry of Education and Culture. This is now the 6th Minister I have worked with, which shows that change can happen very often. The key is to approach a person and to try to understand their personality and character, since people are different and not everyone can be approached in the same way. Therefore, I am flexible, and usually understand how people should be approached. Additionally, I have to be concise and productive at doing my job, in order to brief them on major issues concerning the Ministry, as well as to introduce them to the Management team. This is more intensive during the first few months. Of course, I remain at their disposal later on for anything they want to discuss. Overall, I did not face any problems with the change of Ministers. Concerning the second part of your question, yes, there are different people, each with different mind sets. Sometimes people can be strange even, which is a challenge, but the only way to face this, is to stick to principles. Although I use a human approach, as I said earlier, I have a lot of patience, seldom raise my voice and try not to intimidate others, there are times, where there is no other choice but to be firm and try to get them to understand that there are principles that should not be violated. If they are, the proper thing must be done and disciplinary rules must be followed.  This is of course the last resort:  overall, if you are democratic and show respect to others, they respect you too and you have no problem with individual personalities.

 

When there are scandals regarding the Ministry, how do you handle negative publicity from the media?

This is a very interesting question, because often, what the media present may not always be as it seems. A small problem can easily be exaggerated, because media think this will be more interesting for people to read. We have achieved many things at the Ministry concerning Education and Culture, and it is unfortunate that any positive developments do not get the publicity they deserve. I am disappointed in the sense that what is often being presented doesn’t reveal all aspects of the matter.

During my early days as a Permanent Secretary I actually tried to tackle this problem, as I thought that this was because media were not aware of the full story. On one occasion, when they had written something while I was at the other ministry, I called the journalists, and told them “I want to brief you about this, because it appears that there are some things that have been misunderstood”. I then told them all the details regarding the matter. However, on the next day, I saw the same things written once again, without any attention to what I had explained. So I decided that sometimes this problem cannot be tackled. Of course, if something negative is written, we always issue a statement as a Ministry with a view to explaining our own perspective.  If however a real scandal is revealed by the press, which can happen, then we take steps, for example making an investigation, send the result to the Attorney General and follow his advice on the matter. Generally, one has to be calm and cool about negative publicity. This is the only way.

Special Committee: Confessions

To Maria: Are you ok? Cause you look like you fell from heaven.

Daniella is a fancy lady me likeyyy 😉

Russia looks a lot like Merida from Disney’s Brave

Michael’s lisp is the cutest thing ever.

To Chair: “You are having the time of your life aren’t you?”

Chairs’ response: YAS!

“Love it when Egypt speaks”

“Daniella’s dank Russian memes are lit.”

To: Chairs From: China

“Why does Peter Pan always fly? Because he neverlands!”

To: Russia From: China

I gave all my dead batteries away today. Free of Charge.

To: China The invention of the shovel was GROUND BREAKING

If you have a bad day… just think of chocolate, unicorns, kittens, puppies… Now you have a good day

I said to Kass to make her Points of Information shorter so many times that I feel bad now.

Maria is going to EXPLODE if we pass one more clause

To: Chair M From: China Two peanuts were walking down the street. One was a salted :)

After today I’m 100% sure the delegate of the US believes aliens exist and is secretly afraid

To Admin Staff with glasses: Is there something in your eye? On no it’s just a sparkle

Triggered delegates are the best

I wonder how many pens can fit/ be lost in Sana’s hair

Rodoulla looks like the cover album of Queen with that tablet below her face GALILEO GALILEO FIGAROOO!

Seriously wishing I could speak Greek

The delegate of Egypt DOES look very Egyptian

To: Russia From: China :) You heard the rumor going around about batter? Nevermind, I shouldn’t spread it

Loving USA’s red bow – tie

Saudi Arabia looks like a white American football player

UAE U Are Everything

France, what a sass though?!

When Daniella began singing the USSR anthem she was really into it Im SCARED

I love Ivan’s accent please say babys again

From: China To: Chairs Could I have some water… It’s beginning to be too salty over here…

Our Chairs are awsome :)

France was serving sass right and left yesterday. BOY contain yourself

To: Germany Your hair is GOALS

Egypt should get the sassiest delegate award

Delegate of USA is savage!!!

GIIIRLLLL SANA I WISH I HAD HAIR LIKE YOURS. IT’S SO FLUFFYYYY!!! 😀

To: Admin Staff The Russian Federation is extremely remorseful for the large amount of notes

Egypt’s rings are cool

USA is hot – By USA

Can we watch a vine compilation

The beef between France and Egypt is very entertaining

Singapore’s day 2 outfit is on fire

Danae is so cute ^^

Delegate of the UAE is cute

Egypt is a very nice delegate, he seems so friendly and he made very good points.

Maria gets automatically excited when she hears the word veto

I really enjoy the canteen’s food. It’s a huge motivation to get through the day

Egypt looks like a classy drug lord.

From: Russia To: Brazil The mother country greatly appreciates your comments made. Pelmeni wll be sent personally by the Russian Gov. Me encanta mucho!

The temperature is rising in here!

To the female chair: This is the result of you urging us to be meaner!!! (no hate)

I will always love dearly my Muslim partners and respect the holy triad, despite the fact that I have chosen to remain part of the UN.

Dear delegate of Switzerland, I have a reminder for you… delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate,

The delegate of the USA looks like Leonardo DiCaprio  when he was young except his eyebrows are ON FLEEK!

Can the pieces of brownie be BIGGER please?

Finally a resolution is formed… sort of

12.13 p.m: After many clauses submitted, one which was submitted by the delegate of Poland and was an amendment of a previous clause has finally passed unanimously. A  sigh of relief was heard from almost all delegates and the sound of applause filled the room. There are only a few clauses left and up until now only one clause has passed however the delegates still seem hopeful.

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Humans of MEDI.MUN – Rafael Ellinas (The English School Nicosia)

What is the funniest thing that has happened in MEDI.MUN so far?

I think that the breaks, when they all come to eat are the funniest because it’s chaos.

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Debating begins again after the break!

11:10 am Last clauses are debated by the delegates of the USA, UK, Canada and India. The Main submitter USA authorizes military aid and advises to help repel present and future incursions into Indian sovereign territory as delineated by the border agreed by the Security Council and supports training an Indian and multinational force to repel and protect against illegal invasion forces and for the maintenance of a permanent mountain base for special troops skilled in mountain and extreme warfare. This clause however does not pass.

Further debating upon the humanitarian crisis

2:40 pm The delegate of Ethiopia is the first one to take the stage after the lunch to deliver her speech on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. She lays out the impact a long term draught may have in a country, and reposes on the importance of clean water and dry food. She states that a very effective way to do this is raising awareness and educating the public in farming practices while also encouraging those who do have the required money to donate it for charities.

 

“People are dying, the children are dying, the future generations are dying.”

GA4: Afghanistan against Spain

1412:13 pm The delegate of Afghanistan begins his speech against the resolution of Spain by simply stating that, with the exception of Nazi history being accessible through the school curriculum, all other clauses prove vague and do not solve the problems at hand. The delegate then proceeds by giving numerous examples of clauses that indeed offer no solution. For example, school trips to other countries, housing of refugees and addition of more suitable personnel to the justice system, all prove reluctant to solve the question in hand.

Second clause does not pass!

11:00 am After a short break, the delegates return ready to debate for 10 more minutes the clause concerning the DPRK. The delegate of Ukraine delivers a passionate speech against the clause followed by two points of information by the delegates of Senegal and Japan. After a long debate, the delegates proceed to voting, and due to the majority of the delegates castng their vote against this clause, the first clause concerning the question of the DPRK does not pass. Clapping is not in order.

Ukraine attacks Israel.

9:50 Ukraine comments on the naive and idealistic nature of the Resolution, stating that “barely scratches the surface” and “is full of loopholes”. This remark needs clarification from the delegate of Albania, as it is too general.  Will the delegate’s powerful speech overthrow Israel’s resolution and convince the majority of the house to vote against?7

GA1- Debating Begins

10:00 am With the distinct smell of coffee in the air, debating on measures to support combat sexual violence in conflict zones commences. The resolution submitted by South Korea is supported by India, however Poland does not agree, as the safety of male victims is not granted. Germany and Saudi Arabia on the other hand seem to be against the resolution as a whole, as it is “completely and utterly vague”…. Things are not looking hopeful here, South Korea!

 

GA3 Confessions

“The admin staff is cute.”

“Sudan became the delegate of sleep.”

“One of the Chairs is really cute.”

“We’re friends now, when do the benefits kick in.”

“Delegate of France, when you walk a rainbow follows, you’re a little unicorn.”

“Delegate of Venezuela is the hottest delegate in the room.”

“Canada turns me on.”

“Delegate of Chad, ever since the training day I think you look like a vampire, in the best way possible.”

“Serbia is really hot.”

GA4: The first debate continues!

The delegate of Panama takes the stage next, defending the resolution regarding impunity of UN officials submitted by Ethiopia. Due to time constraints, debate against the resolution begins, and the delegate of Libya takes the stage and makes a powerful speech attacking the resolution for being too vague, and poorly worded. The delegate of Ethiopia and Nicaragua make points of information, both of which are immediately countered by the delegate of Libya.

MEDIMUN 2017 Opening Ceremony

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The 12th annual session of MEDIMUN was officially set underway today with a grandiose opening ceremony at the European University of Cyprus. Classical music performed by the brass band of the English School marked the beginning of the ceremony, accompanying the colourful flag parade, symbolic of the diversity of students who have gathered here from all around Cyprus, Greece and Czech Republic.

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First spoke Senior Director Mr James Lodge, who elaborated on the importance of conferences such as MEDIMUN in an era with a great focus on what has been named ‘post-truth politics’. He commented on the growing role played by emotions in global politics, referring to recent events such as Brexit and President Trump’s election. “People know how they feel, and don’t care about the facts. […] But we want you to know things – it’s useful to know the facts.

 

 

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Following a powerful performance of Viva la Vida by the English School choir, MEDIMUN then had the pleasure of being spoken to by American Ambassador to Cyprus, Ms Kathleen Doherty, who commended the conference on its ability to spark interest in young people about international relations – a platform which is “When I was your age, I didn’t think about the world beyond me. I lived in New York, and thought that was the world.

With that, Secretary General Zoe Kassinis hit the gavel with evident excitement, giving the signal for delegates to return to their GAs and start the debating process in an attempt to understand just how much it takes to change the world.

Debating begins

4:57 pm After hours of hard work, lobbying and merging has finally come to an end. The two chairs give a presentation on the historical events of the Cuban missile crisis. This gives the delegates the opportunity to debate clauses that could have altered the past. Terminating diplomatic relations with the USSR and Cuba brings segregation between the delegates of France and USSR against the delegates of UK and USA.

Plenary Session- The 2nd debate begins..

9:43 a.m: The resolution on increasing measures to better protect World Heritage sites and National Monuments from the main submitter, the delegate of Iran in GA3,  is called to the podium. The chairs set a time 13 minutes for and 13 mins against the resolution. The delegate opens up to 3 points of information made by South Africa, Pakistan and The Netherlands to which she replies informatively.

9:48 a.m: The floor is yielded to the delegate of Palestine to follow up on the argument for the resolution. She opens up to only 1 point of information made by the delegate of Bangladesh.

9:52 a.m: The delegate of Hungary is called to the floor to present her argument. After having finished she declares that she is not open to any POI’s.

9:55 a.m: The delegate of Poland follows her up on the argument for but due to time constraints only one POI is entertained.

9:57 a.m: The delegate of Lebanon submits an amendment to the resolution and yields the floor back to the chairs.

10:00 a.m: After one speech against, voting procedures for the amendment begin.  With 30 votes for and 40 votes against, the amendment does not pass. With 32 votes for, 35 against and 7 abstentions, the resolution as a whole does not pass.

 

GA3 Superlatives

Best Speaker: Delegate of Egypt, Delegate of Ethiopia

Most likely to be a politician: Delegate of Australia, Delegate of Thailand

Most likely to go to prison: Delegate of Poland, Delegate of Australia

Fashion icon: Delegate of Nigeria, Rafaella (the Chair)

Funniest: Delegate of Poland, Delegate of Thailand

Most likely to be a dictator: Delegates of Australia and Thailand, Delegates of Chad and Iran

Sexiest: Delegate of Nigeria, Delegate of Spain