Cyprus-flagged ships are facing ‘a second Turkish embargo’ hampering Ukrainian grain exports, Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanoli said on Thursday.
Apart from the embargo on docking at Turkish ports, ships bearing the Cyprus flag are also prevented from transporting grain or other products to and from Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The deputy minister, who spoke after a session with the House transport committee, explained that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there was an agreement between Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia with the United Nations to ensure the safe transit of maritime grain shipments from Ukraine grain via the Black Sea.
“Turkey is the country that controls the ships that pass through the Black Sea and in this way it prevents any ship that bears the Cypriot flag or any ship that is managed in Cyprus from being able to be part of this process.
“That is why I have called it a second embargo,” she said.
Since 1987 Turkey has banned ships flying the Cypriot flag from docking at its ports.
Hadjimanoli noted that this ban does not only apply to Cypriot-flagged ships but also extends to ships managed by Cyprus.
Responding to questions, the deputy minister reiterated the president’s statements that Cyprus will not support a Turkish candidacy for the post of Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
But she assured that in case this happens, this will not affect Cyprus.
Cyprus is aiming for re-election to the IMO Council for the period 2024 to 2025. Referring to reports of a possible candidacy of Cyprus for the position of IMO Secretary General, Hadjimanoli said “I am not aware of any such thing.”
The nomination process for the post of IMO Secretary General closes tomorrow.
As regards the Cypriot fleet, Hadjimanoli said this has decreased significantly due to recent international developments, the sanctions and the subsequent de-registering of ships.
In July 2021, 1,752 ships were registered on the Cypriot register with a capacity of 25 million tonnes, but the fleet has now been reduced to 1,663 with a capacity of 22 million tonnes.
Malta and Italy have also recorded reductions in their fleet, and there is no information showing that ships are leaving to register in another European country, the minister said.
Despite this, Hadjimanoli provided data showing the upward trend in the registration of shipping companies, which increased from 273 in 2021 to 302 in 2022.
The revenues of the deputy ministry also increased to €17.3 million today from €16.4 million in 2021, with revenues from tonnage tax accounting for 50 per cent of the deputy ministry’s total revenues.
Meanwhile, capacity tax revenue in 2022 amounted to €8.78 million, compared to €8.07 million in 2021.
For their part, MPs praised the contribution of shipping to the Cypriot economy.
Transport committee chair Marinos Moushiouttas (Dipa) said the committee would stand by the deputy ministry and the new deputy minister in support of shipping but also expressed concern about the second Turkish embargo.
“We are certainly concerned about Turkey’s actions, we are entering a political issue,” he said, expressing confidence that the government would take the necessary actions.
The major powers are turning a blind eye and letting Turkey act the way it does, he added.
Disy MPs assured they will support Cypriot shipping, which contributes 7 per cent of GDP.