COVID19: Cyprus shipping needs support

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Vasilis Demetriades, the Cyprus shipping minister said Monday he shares a common view with the communist party Akel on actions to further promote the maritime sector.

Speaking after a meeting with the party’s General Secretary, Andros Kyprianou, the junior minister said, “We exchanged views and suggestions about Cyprus shipping.”

“Our common observation is that this sector is part of our national wealth and that through actions and initiatives it can develop further to have a promising future and prospects,” Demetriades said.

He said there is a need to support the maritime sector which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in particular the cruise ships and passenger vessels, which have had no activity this year and are out of operation.

“We cannot promote our services and attract more vessels, while many Cypriot ships remain idle, causing serious problems.”

The minister added that the shipping sector is the driving force of worldwide commerce, especially cargo, ships are in operation, but not as much as in the past.

He added that although the control of Cyprus ports and marinas are not his department’s jurisdiction, nonetheless the same regulations apply as at airports, both for passengers and for seafarers to prevent the spread of Covid-19 within Cyprus.

Demetriades said that he found the Akel leadership very well informed of maritime matters and added that the party’s parliamentary work is crucial.

They also exchanged views on the next steps to be taken amid the environmental challenges that lie ahead, as well as labour issues, such as crew changes.

Akel’s leader said that shipping is very important for Cyprus and needs to be supported at every possible level.

“We expressed our readiness to the Deputy Minister to cooperate with him to promote actions and efforts that will further enhance the maritime sector,” Kyprianou said, praising the ministry’s efforts towards reforms and long-term strategies.

Cyprus-based shipping companies employ up to 60,000 onboard their vessels around the world and have been calling on governments to follow the example of Cyprus and facilitate crew changes.

Earlier in July, 13 maritime nations joined the growing number of states allowing crew changes by signing a pact for exemptions in port controls and more commercial flights to accommodate thousands of exhausted seafarers stuck on board ships around the world.