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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades

Cyprus sets out shipping goals

Cyprus is to boost its shipping registry to further reinforce the "one of the most important pillars supporting the economy of the country". Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades says Cyprus is “a global shipping power,” and the island’s shipping sector needs to play an even more important role in efforts for economic recovery.

Addressing a working lunch 3 October hosted by the Cyprus Union of Shipowners in Athens, Anastasiades did not go into details but said boosting the registry requires a continuous upgrade of services offered by the public sector and of security standards on board Cypriot-flag ships.

It is 50 years since the establishment of the registry, which is now the 10th largest in the world and the largest third in Europe. The road has not been easy and Anastasiades believes if it were not for the Turkish embargo Cyprus could rank higher in international shipping.

He said measures planned by the Nicosia government include promoting awareness of the benefits of the Cypriot flag and the country as a hub for shipping and management companies, as well as the multitude of incentives that run within European Union rules.

The sustainable development of the shipping sector is a government priority, he said, adding incentives given to investors in shipping will continue to be improved and updated on the basis of the needs deriving from the international shipping industry and on the basis of European regulations and international conventions.

Anastasiades said discovery of natural gas in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) creates even bigger prospects both for shipping companies based in Cyprus and for those doing business in this sector and the Cypriot shipping sector in general.

“Cyprus can develop into a major energy hub of the Mediterranean,” said the president.

However, this may be easier said than achieved as Turkey continues to dispute Cyprus’s rights over gas and petroleum exploration within its territorial waters and continental shelf.

Indeed, no sooner had Anastasiades returned home than he was on the telephone with Greek Prime minister, Antonis Samaras discussing the coordination of actions as a reaction to the Turkish provocations in Cyprus’ EEZ. There were reports, 6 October that Athens had issued a strict warning to Ankara, that it either respect international law concerning Cyprus’s rights over gas and petroleum exploration within its territorial waters and continental shelf, or “take the consequences for your EU membership”. Cyprus has put a veto on Ankara’s negotiations for EU membership

While in Athens, Anastasiades said the continuing policy and restrictive measures against Cyprus on the part of Turkey, “adversely affect both our country and the development of the shipping sector, and the private and public EU interest”. He said Cyprus is making continuous efforts to get Turkey’s restrictions lifted, as the Turkish embargo hinders implementation of the law principles and of the free competition in the maritime trade with the EU.

Anastasiades referred to the very close ties between Greece and Cyprus, which he described as “leading maritime powers” in Europe. He said it is “in our best interest that the Cypriot and the Greek shipping sectors are modernised both in quality and quantity and grow". He said mutual support, respect and the joint interests between Greece and Cyprus “lead to a common policy and close cooperation between our two countries".

At the turn of the month Greece, Malta and Cyprus, which between them account for more than half of the EU’s flag fleet, agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on a common strategy in the shipping sector, including pollution, labour and ports.

During a meeting held in Valetta, Malta on 30 September attended by Greek Shipping and Aegean minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Cyprus minister of Communications and Works, Marios Demetriades, and minister for Transport and the Infrastructure of Malta, Joseph Mizzi, the three agreed to look for "ways to assist each other in achieving common goals that could accommodate the formation of a common strategy between the three countries in the shipping sector".

Focus of the meeting was on safer shipping and cleaner oceans and the importance of international and regional cooperation and how best to achieve this. The get together was a follow up to two similar ones, held in May 2013 in Greece and in Cyprus last January, which also focused on consolidating a common position on maritime affairs.

Mizzi noted the three countries had significant maritime interests and needed to ensure this was adequately represented and taken into account when policy and legislation are being formulated at both EU and international level. Varvitsiotis said: "We need to strengthen the voice of shipping, within and outside the European Union with boosting competitiveness and jobs our common goal.”

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