Cyprus will run for spot on the board of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), President Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday.
He said in this way Cyprus would be able to have a leading role in the organisation, for which Turkey is seeking the IMO top spot in the general secretariat.
Asked what went wrong and why the Cypriot candidacy for the secretariat did not proceed, the president said that there was no mistake and that he had seen reports suggesting that because there was no Cypriot candidacy, Greece was forced to support Turkey.
“Let me tell you that the agreement between Greece and Turkey for mutual support on the UN Security Council and also in the IMO was made long before any thought about a possible candidacy of the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.
The president added that the government would put forward a candidacy for a seat on the IMO council.
“It is important through our substantial intervention in the IMO to support the rights of the Republic of Cyprus, because, you understand, we are a country that since 1987, precisely because of the Turkish attitude, has had very serious problems in the shipping sector,” he said.
Asked if the election of Turkey to the secretariat of the IMO would have negative consequences for Cyprus, Christodoulides said he did not think under any circumstances that the secretary-general of the IMO, whether from Turkey or from any other country, can in any way create problems for an internationally recognised state, a state which, especially in the shipping sector, has an important role to play.
Two days ago, Deputy Shipping Minister Marina Hadjimanoli said that Cyprus would seek re-election to the IMO council.
She said that Cyprus-flagged ships are facing ‘a second Turkish embargo’ hampering Ukrainian grain exports.
Apart from the embargo on docking at Turkish ports in place since 1987, 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.
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.