The EU needs to ensure that its Russia sanctions do not negatively impact the bloc or individual member states, especially when it comes to the shipping sector, President Nicos Anastasiades has said.
In address to the Shipowners Association in Athens on Friday night, Anastasiades spoke in general about the shipping industry and the importance of the Cypriot and Greek registries to the bloc.
Touching on EU sanctions against Russia, he said the Cyprus government was making every effort to minimise the negative effects that the sanctions have on the shipping sector and “to maintain to the maximum extent possible the competitiveness of European shipping and, by extension, the Cypriot and Greek flags”.
“In all my contacts with EU Heads of State or Government, as well as in the context of the work of the European Council, I have repeatedly highlighted the basic principle and philosophy that must govern sanctions, so that they are targeted against the one against whom they are directed and not against member states,” he said.
“If we were to listen to the Brussels bureaucrats, the first to pay the cost will certainly not be Russia and its energy exports but the merchant shipping sectors of Greece, Cyprus and possibly Malta,” he said.
He added that some of these bureaucrats do not understand the simple concept that a ship can change its flag “and therefore those who will be damaged are not the Russians who will continue to export, but the European countries and especially the strongest [in shipping], such as Greece, Cyprus, Malta”.
Cyprus and Greece, he added, did not hesitate to take a strong position on the adoption of sanctions that would have a negative impact on member states.
In the rest of his address, Anastasiades outlines the government’s strategic vision in the field of shipping, stressing that the principal goal was the creation of strong foundations for Cypriot shipping in order to tackle unforeseen crises and to capitalise on emerging opportunities.
He said the newly-created deputy ministry of shipping aimed at strengthening Cyprus’ maritime policies and administration in order to respond to international competition.
He also said the strategic vision for Cyprus shipping, ‘SEA Change 2030’, which was adopted last September, seeks to lay a solid foundation for the shipping industry to adequately deal with unforeseen crises but also to capitalise on emerging opportunities.
This strategic plan is based on three pillars: extroversion, adaptability and sustainability.
“This new philosophy not only lays a solid foundation for strengthening the competitiveness of the Cyprus registry but also enhances security levels on Cypriot-flagged ships, supports the shipping industry in its effort to decarbonise the sector through green tax incentives and seeks to redesign and strengthen the staffing of the network of shipping offices of the Republic of Cyprus abroad,” he said.
“At the same time, the strategy also touches on the human factor aspect by ensuring adequate training and skills for seafarers by promoting e-education, e-training and e-learning by making use of available technology,” the president said.