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‘Efforts will intensify to have Turkish ban on Cypriot ships removed’ (Updated)

President Anastasiades' heavy-handed approach had the opposite of the desired effect

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday that Cyprus efforts to remove the illegal restrictions imposed by Turkey on Cypriot-flagged ships would be intensifying as the Turkish embargo was a clear violation of international law.

Anastasiades was addressing the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber in Limassol, in the presence of the President of the House, the President of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Vice President of the Union of European Shipowners.

He said Cyprus was proud of its shipping industry, which had played a decisive role in the steady recovery of the economy, acting not only as a gateway for foreign investment but also as an export destination of ship management services.

“Cyprus is one of the most modern and quality international shipping centres, having the eleventh largest fleet in the world and the third in Europe, strategically located, with excellent infrastructure, maritime specialization, but above all the determination to do all organizational, structural and tax reforms needed for a promising future,” he said.

Commenting on the government`s actions to support the shipping industry, Anastasiades referred to the creation of a deputy ministry for shipping, a new strategy to promote issues the industry and the strengthening of the tax framework for commercial shipping.

He said the government would continue to examine ways to adopt more tax and other incentives within the European framework so that Cyprus remains competitive as a shipping centre.

The latest data from the central bank showed revenues from shipping companies in 2018 amounted to €1.34bn, compared with €948m in 2017, an increase of 9 per cent. The contribution of the shipping industry was 7 per cent of GDP, he added.

Anastasiades said that in 2018, 69 new ships were registered in Cyprus, while the number of multinational corporations transferring their base to the island was increasing.

He also highlighted the prospects from the discovery of major hydrocarbon deposits in the region, and lauded the steady development of the Cyprus shipping industry despite Turkey’s illegal embargo on Cypriot-flagged vessels.

“Our efforts to remove these anachronistic and illegal restrictions will be further intensified as they are a clear violation of international law,” Anastasiades said.

In its progress report on Turkey published on Wednesday, the European Commission said that as long as restrictions remained in place on vessels and aircraft registered in Cyprus, related to Cyprus, or whose last port of call was Cyprus, Turkey would not be in a position to fully implement the acquis relating to the transport chapter.

According to the EU’s report, Turkey has made no progress in normalising relations with Cyprus and it repeated Brussels’ call to Ankara to refrain from illegal acts in Cyprus’ EEZ, reconfirming that it would respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus.

Anastasiades on Thursday expressed satisfaction that Europe stood in solidarity with Cyprus and said he hoped Turkey would refrain from any further provocations in Cyprus EEZ to avoid measures being taken against it.  He said however if any measures were required, they would be taken.

He said the foreign ministry had made the necessary comments on the report. “In any case, what I am aware of is that the European Union is monitoring Turkey and if measures are required, they will be taken,” he said.

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