Cypriot Chrystalla Georghadji became the eurozone's only woman central bank chief Thursday, facing the daunting task of guiding her country's banks out of a crisis that nearly sank the economy last year.
The 58-year-old former auditor general replaces Panicos Demetriades, who resigned under fire last month.
President Nicos Anastasiades, speaking at her investiture, said "it is obvious that in these difficult times... your contribution to restore confidence in the financial sector is critical... to return to growth."
She acknowledged "the extremely difficult economic conditions our country is experiencing" and said she shared "the sense of insecurity and distrust households and businesses experience on a daily basis. I am aware that people, like capital, are leaving Cyprus."
She said the primary strategic goal is to restore the confidence of depositors and society in a stabilised banking sector.
"This is inextricably linked to a number of other issues of high priority such as adequate liquidity in the economy, tackling non-performing loans and strengthening of corporate governance in the banking sector.”
Georghadji, auditor general since 1998, regularly highlighted waste and corruption in public life and campaigned against them.
Not only does she become the eurozone's sole female central bank chief, she is the first woman ever appointed to the job in Cyprus.
Demetriades, whose performance came under fire over the island's banking crisis last year, resigned on March 10 only two years into a five-year contract
Media cited an unworkable relationship with a hostile central bank board and continued confrontation with Anastasiades, who tried to have him sacked last September.
Demetriades, named by Anastasiades' communist predecessor Demetris Christofias, was criticised for his handling of a 10-billion-euro ($13.8-billion) international bailout last year to rescue the economy from collapse.
He was at the helm during negotiations to navigate Cyprus through the crisis that led to Nicosia agreeing to a painful austerity plan and an unprecedented haircut on deposits.
Cyprus shut its banks for two weeks during the crisis, slapping strict capital controls on them that have been substantially relaxed since then but not been entirely lifted.
Anastasiades accused Demetriades, 55, of being slow to respond to the economic fallout.
But he countered that strict adherence under his tenure to bailout conditions laid down by international lenders were factors that have earned their praise.