President Nikos Christodoulides at the 34th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC).

Cyprus wants to see ‘EU shipping commission’

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Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides wants the European Union to establish an executive branch that would be dedicated to maritime and shipping affairs.

Speaking to reporters after his address to the Cyprus Shipping Chamber’s annual general meeting in Limassol, Christodoulides said, “I often describe [shipping] as the most silent and yet most productive industry.

“Within this framework of cooperation, and after consultation, we will petition the European Commission very soon, with a written request to consider a Commission that will deal with shipping matters.

“This is particularly important, considering the prevailing international environment, for the EC to realise the importance and the geopolitical dimension of shipping,” he said.

“I have discussed the matter with the Greek government and I consider that Greece and Cyprus must work to make the EC realise even more the importance of European shipping.

“Because we are talking about European shipping and an indication that they will realise this importance is through the assignment of a Commissioner for maritime affairs.”

In his address to the 34th AGM of the biggest shipping organisation in Cyprus, Christodoulides said his administration has planned a clear strategy to meet the challenges in the maritime industry, “but also to secure and further promote the excellent performance of the Cyprus shipping sector.”

New era

He said the establishment of the Deputy Shipping Ministry (in 2018) marked a new era in Cyprus shipping, and that “the road to the future lies in a holistic approach and converting challenges into opportunities.”

Christodoulides said his administration is determined to speed up procedures for the “One-Stop Shipping-Centre” which has been a longstanding demand of the maritime industry.

Priority will be given to training officials in various government departments to acquaint themselves better with shipping matters and undertake important roles in the new services that will be established, as well as to admiralty law issues, digital transformation, etc.

The aim, Christodulides said, is sustainable development and enhancing the competitiveness of the Cyprus flag following the introduction of tax incentives that will support the green transition, and the implementation of eco-friendly practices by shipowners.

“Cyprus ranks very highly in the European and world shipping industries. Specifically, it has the third biggest flag in Europe, eleventh worldwide and leads in ship management.”

“However, this ranking could have been higher if we didn’t face the Turkish embargo on Cypriot vessels, which is an outright violation of European and international law.

“We will continue to raise the issue of Turkey’s illegal embargo at all available fora, including the E.U., and we will continue to emphasise the fact that the embargo is also an obstacle to European shipping and affects world trade.”

Parliament’s commitment

In her address to the AGM, House President Annita Demetriou said that shipping has remained a strong and steady pillar of the Cyprus economy, despite the challenges that are faced by the world economy. She also reaffirmed the Parliament’s commitment to work closely with the Chamber, for the advancement of the shipping sector in Cyprus.”

Guy Platten, Secretary General of International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), of which the CSC has been a member for 30 years, congratulated the Chamber’s President Themis Papadopoulos for his recent re-election as one of the Vice-Presidents of ICS.

He also thanked the Chamber for its longstanding input in ICS work, helping shape a better future for international shipping.

As regards the sector’s decarbonisation efforts, Platten said that collaboration across the entire value chain “is the only way we can forge a path to a decarbonised future.”

Closing the AGM, Themis Papadopoulos reviewed the challenges and developments that took place in 2022 in relation to Cyprus shipping and the Chamber’s activities towards the further development of the sector.

He said that the maritime cluster is one of the most significant economic pillars of the country and enhances the prestige of Cyprus, as a superpower in shipping.

“Therefore, the need for the immediate implementation of the “One-Stop-Shipping-Center” at the Shipping Deputy Ministry and the swift preparation and approval of the regulations for the implementation of the “Shipping Company with Limited Liability” is necessary.”

As regards the longstanding Turkish embargo on Cypriot ships, the CSC President called for concrete support from the government and diplomats “to use their influence to immediately lift this illegal restriction.”

“In addition, the Chamber remains committed to efforts for the fast and sustainable green transition of the shipping industry, through its active involvement in regional and international shipping organisations.”

Themis Papadopoulos was re-elected as President of the Chamber for a second two-year term, while eleven members were elected to the CSC board for the 2023-2025 period.

Admiralty court

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Anna Koukkidi Prokopiou said in her speech at the 13th Economic Congress in Nicosia that as of July 1, the new Constitutional Court and the new Supreme Court will begin, with both courts enhanced with special powers to deal with specific issues.

At the same time, the Apellate Court will work to deal swiftly with appeals cases.

“We expect the operation, soon, of the Commercial Court, as well as the Admiralty Court, which will hear and try cases of commercial disputes of value above €2 mln, and all shipping and maritime cases,” she said.

“These courts will help reduce the time of exercising jurisdiction which, in combination with the possibility of the use of the English language, will help enhance Cyprus’ position as a centre of providing quality services and attracting foreign investors.”