Ambassador of Egypt, Mai Taha Mohamed Khalil, and Canadian Ambassador Mark Allen were named ‘diplomat of the year’, resident and non-resident respectively, on Wednesday at an awards ceremony held by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) and the foreign ministry in Nicosia.
The event hosted to promote economic diplomacy named one resident diplomat of the year and one non-resident diplomat of the year. They were voted for by the island’s diplomatic corps.
The resident ambassador award was given to Khalil, who took charge of the Egyptian embassy in November 2017, and non-resident ambassador award was given to Allen, who was made ambassador to Greece and Cyprus in October 2018, stationed in Athens.
Addressing the event, foreign minister, Nicos Christodoulides said economic diplomacy was indispensable, adding that his ministry had made it one of its top priorities.
He said economic diplomacy in times of protectionist tendencies and rising economic nationalism that hinder world trade and investment “ultimately affect world growth and prosperity.”
“These are only a few of the reasons that make economic diplomacy indispensable. It is mandatory that we use all levers at our disposal to promote our mutual economic interests, to ensure a level playing field for all economies – large and small,” Chistodoulides said.
Commenting on the 2013 financial crisis in Cyprus in the wake of the global crisis, the minister said: “We have succeeded in transforming an economy in distress, into a story of strong economic recovery that has attracted international praise.”
“One of the most valuable lessons learned from the economic crisis is the importance of the interaction between our countries’ economies and the significance of multilateral cooperation in facing challenges of this magnitude,” he added.
Economic relations between countries in recent years have become more blurred, Christodoulides said, noting partnerships are becoming more integral.
He added that the strategy on economic diplomacy, initiated in February 2019, is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
“At the heart of our pursuit lies the understanding that focusing only on commercial diplomacy – the promotion of exports and the attraction of foreign direct investment – is no longer sufficient. We believe that economic diplomacy has a much wider role to play, coherently promoting all the comparative advantages of a country, contributing towards the enhancement of political relations,” he said.
The foreign minister added they are focusing on the classical aspects of economic diplomacy, including access to markets and foreign investment, but they are also working on improving the island’s branding and Cyprus’ culture.