By Angelos Anastasiou
Companies within Russia’s energy industry should take advantage of Cyprus’ existing and potential opportunities relating to natural gas infrastructural projects, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Friday.
Lakkotrypis was speaking on President Nicos Anastasiades’ behalf at the Russian-Cypriot Business and Investment Forum, which was held in Limassol.
In his speech, the energy minister noted that Cyprus was at a critical juncture with regard to both its economic recovery and the strengthening of its cooperation with Russia.
He referred to Anastasiades’ recent visit to Moscow, which “reaffirmed the political, commercial, cultural, and religious ties between the two countries and their people”, and offered a brief overview of the current economic climate on the island.
“Two years after the 2013 decisions, Cyprus has turned the page, and its economy is on the way to a full recovery,” he said.
“The financial sector has been restructured and recapitalised, and our financial institutions have passed the stress-tests. Fiscal deficits have been addressed and important reform is underway.”
Lakkotrypis added that the country’s progress has been acknowledged by its foreign creditors, and reflected in its sovereign 10-year bond yields, which stood on Thursday at 3.95 per cent, a four-year low, compared with 16.4 per cent from two years ago.
The Forum, Lakkotrypis said, came at a time when Cyprus was preparing to announce the monetisation of its Aphrodite natural gas field, which “marks the first time that Cyprus will move from the research stage to the stage of exploiting its natural resources”.
“Using its exceptionally good long-term relations with neighbouring countries, geostrategic location, friendly business environment, stable investment climate, and its favourable tax system, Cyprus is well on the way to becoming a regional energy hub, by attracting companies from every step of the hydrocarbon exploitation chain,” he said.
In this context, the minister argued, Cyprus could be a valuable partner to the Russian energy industry with regard to taking advantage of existing, as well as potential, opportunities in creating natural gas pipelines and infrastructure.
Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy noted that negotiations between Russia and Cyprus’ leaders in Moscow were very successful and reaffirmed their goal of further strengthening their relations.
“One of the areas of cooperation is economic activity and the development of this cooperation,” he said.
Russian deputy minister for economic development Nikolay Podguzov expressed the belief that the Forum would create new business opportunities for companies from both countries.
He argued that the investment sector was an important pillar in the cooperation between the two states, noting that total Cypriot investments in Russia add up to over $200 billion, while Russian investments in Cyprus total almost $170 billion.
Podguzov thanked the government of Cyprus for its stance on European Union sanctions against Russia, which he described as “a means not conducive to fruitful cooperation”.