By Stefanos Evripidou
PRESIDENT NICOS Anastasiades has appealed to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and European Commission to “exert influence and leverage” towards lifting the illegal Turkish embargo on Cypriot shipping.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Maritime Cyprus 2013 conference in Limassol, the president said lifting this embargo is part of a package-proposal of confidence-building measures put forward by the Greek Cypriot side which also includes the return of Varosha. “So far, we have not received a positive response. I do hope that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots will come to the realisation- apart from the evident advantage of creating a dynamic impetus in the negotiating process and reviving the hope of Cypriot people with respect to the prospect of attaining a solution- of the economic and commercial benefits of accepting and fully implementing our set of confidence-building measures,” he said.
Anastasiades singled out the shipping industry as being one of Cyprus’ most successful export services, creating an influential global hub for ship owning and ship management services. Around 150 internationally renowned ship-owning, ship management, chartering and shipping-related companies operate from Cyprus, controlling a fleet in excess of 2,200 ships, while the wider shipping sector employs approximately 4,500 employees and 55,000 sea-farers with high earnings,” noted the president.
“Therefore, it comes as no surprise that shipping constitutes one of the main economic pillars of Cyprus, with annual revenue of over one billion euros and a contribution of approximately 7 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product,” he added.
Anastasiades said that within the first week of assuming office last March, his government decided to proceed with the creation of a number of Undersecretaries to the President, with a shipping undersecretary given high priority.
The relevant bill has already been discussed in parliament and is expected to be approved within the next couple of weeks, he said.
“I am sure that all political parties present here today at this truly global shipping gathering will take note of the international recognition and respect Cyprus shipping enjoys amongst its peers, and will expedite the approval of this important bill which will substantially boost Cyprus shipping, both politically and economically.”
The president noted that the decision to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Cyprus “creates an important additional prospect for further development of international and Cyprus shipping, as the shipping industry will be closely linked and fully cooperating with the energy industry for the overall benefit of the economy of the region”.
On the part of the European Commission, no negotiating chapters will open unless Turkey implements the Ankara Protocol and lifts all restrictions on Cypriot aviation and shipping, said Fotis Karamitsos Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Mobility and Transport during a panel discussion at the conference.
Also speaking at the event, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu praised the progress of the Cypriot registry noting that from the period of expansion in the 1980s it followed “a period of quality control”.
“I clearly believe that Cyprus maritime industry is really a good model for other countries,” he said.
Cyprus currently ranks 10th in the global registries and holds the third place in the European Union, while is one of the leading ship management industries in the world.
Around 600 delegates dealing with international shipping gathered for the conference which started yesterday in the southern coastal town.