There are 2,500 ships currently under management by Cyprus-based companies which could be registered in the Cypriot registry, notes Kazakos, who points out already some 1,763 ships fly the country’s flag, despite the embargo on Cypriot-flagged ships imposed by Turkey 30 years ago.
After a settlement, these ships could register with the Cypriot registry “overnight,” Kazakos said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency.
“Without a political settlement in place, without the lifting of Turkey’s embargo and without exploiting our natural wealth we are managing 2,500 oceangoing ships. You can imagine the numbers that we will have to manage [after a settlement], ” he said.
“With the announcement of a settlement to the Cyprus problem automatically the embargo would be lifted. As it was imposed unilaterally and illegally in 1987, it could be unilaterally lifted with one phone call by the Turkish Prime Minister,” he said.
Kazakos called on the island’s maritime administration to be prepared by drafting a medium to long-term national maritime policy, noting growth of the island`s registry which has been stable for about 15 years goes hand in hand with the further development of the island’s maritime administration.
He noted the Transport Ministry has authorised a private firm to compare the Cyprus maritime cluster with competitive jurisdictions and has commissioned a study to look at the restructuring of the Transport ministry and the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS).
“Both studies point out that the DMS and the broader maritime administration should be further modernised to catch up with fast-moving developments in global shipping and to reflect the fact Cyprus has the 10th largest fleet in the world,” he said. “We cannot continue operating with the structures of a registry established in 1963, when Cyprus ranked 160 or lower in the world, while currently it is at a high levels both quantitatively and qualitatively.”
With former IMO executive, Andreas Chrysostomou, now its director, there is a proposal the DMS be turned into a more flexible and independent unit to cover issues such as ship registering, attracting clients and servicing and a second technocratic unit responsible for adapting with EU legislation or drafting national policy.
Meanwhile, Kazakos pointed out the shipping industry has weathered three-year financial crisis with no shipping businesses quitting the island.
“On the contrary, we saw some companies establishing offices here and we noted a stabilisation in terms of ship orders and new ship management,” he said.