Cyprus’ Labor and Social Insurance Minister Zeta Emilianidou died in a hospital in the Greek capital after suffering a brain aneurism last month, the Cypriot government announced late Monday. She was 67.
“I’m deeply grief stricken,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in a post on his official Facebook page. “The loss of our beloved Zeta has left me shattered. … We will all miss Zeta, especially our country that loses an honorable, highly intelligent and effective minister.”
Emilianidou underwent emergency brain surgery at the Athens’ Hygeia Medical Center a few days after complaining of severe headaches May 15.
Tributes poured in moments after the announcement for Emilianidou, one of the few women in Anastasiades’ Cabinet, who gained a reputation as an assiduous worker who kept a low profile while deftly negotiating trouble, including a financial crisis just as she was appointed in 2013 that saw the jobless rate rocket to near record highs.
“Zeta Emilianidou stood out throughout her professional, political and personal life for her ethics, integrity, daring and effectiveness,” lawmaker Chrysis Pantelides posted on his Facebook page.
Born in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia on Sept. 2, 1954, when it was still under UK rule, she earned a law degree from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and became a laywer in Cyprus in 1978.
She spent nearly a decade as chief of the Customs and Excise Department until 2010, when she was appointed as permanent secretary at the Energy, Trade and Tourism Ministry for three years.
Emilianidou earned respect as labor minister for pushing through a string of reforms, particularly in buttressing workers’ rights and gender equality in the workplace.
In recent months, she was working to pass legislation for a national minimum wage.