The fallout on Cyprus’ maritime shipping industry from EU sanctions has been ‘manageable’, the deputy minister for shipping said on Monday.
Vasilis Demetriades made the remarks in parliament while presenting his ministry’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023.
During the first 10 months of 2022, 144 ships have been stricken from the Cyprus ship registry. The majority of these vessels were either “linked to Russia” or had contracts to execute export goods on behalf of Russia, and due to EU sanctions could no longer sail under the Cyprus flag.
“But we are pleased to note that we’ve also had 122 new ship registrations,” Demetriades added.
“So while the sanctions on Russia may not have allowed us to increase our fleet, the reduction is completely manageable.”
However, on the impact on European shipping more broadly, the deputy minister said the EU is scoring an own goal as a result of the sanctions on the Russia Federation.
Shipping in the EU is taking a hit, he noted, without this necessarily isolating Russia and that country’s financial interests. In particular, relating to the embargo on transporting Russian oil, a ship previously flying the Cyprus flag can simply migrate to another registry outside the EU and in this way can continue trading with Russia.
“And so we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” Demetriades said, pointing out that the EU together with the G7 countries account for just 17 per cent of the global oil tanker fleet.
Moving on to the issue of the Cyprus-Greece ferry line, the deputy minister told MPs that during the first year of operation there were transported 7,412 passengers and 1,946 vehicles.
The number of complaints filed amounted to 37, or a mere 0.5 per cent of the users.
The deputy minister stressed that despite these numbers the government has not grown complacent.
“We do not celebrate about the maritime link, rather we say that a first step has been taken.”
He said the ‘big gamble’ will come next year with the number of repeat passengers, “which will show whether we can create a market.”