Fo­cus should be on en­ergy and ship­ping, noth­ing more, noth­ing less


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The warm­ing of re­la­tions be­tween Turkey and re­cent ‘foes’ Is­rael and Rus­sia, as well as the Brexit vote, should not be viewed in­dif­fer­ently, as both events, in their own way, should act as a wake-up call for Cyprus to fi­nally de­sign a strate­gic plan.

On the one hand, naïve thinkers wrongly as­sumed that af­ter the pub­lic fall­out be­tween Shi­mon Peres and Re­cep Tayip Er­do­gan in Davos over the Mavis Mar­mara at­tack, that Turkey and Is­rael would never get to­gether again. Well, we all know that in pol­i­tics, “never say never”. On the other hand, with a sim­ple apol­ogy over the down­ing of a Rus­sian fighter plane near the Syr­ian bor­der, Ankara has mended its fences with the Krem­lin, having al­most jeop­ar­dised bil­lions in trade, en­ergy pipelines and in­fra­struc­ture deals, in­clud­ing the build­ing of the Akkuyu nu­clear power plant, across the shore from Kyre­nia.

And the hastily con­ceived com­ments that Cyprus should “fill the gap” to be cre­ated from the im­pend­ing demise of the Lon­don fi­nan­cial mar­ket, proved how shal­low our ap­proach has been over the years, ex­plain­ing why we have hardly at­tracted any se­ri­ous for­eign in­vestors or funds.

Rus­sia will con­tinue to send mil­lions of tourists to the Turk­ish re­sorts and will con­tinue buy­ing mil­lions, if not bil­lions worth of goods and per­ish­ables, sim­ply be­cause Ankara does not need to abide by EU sanc­tions over the Crimea stand-off. At the same time, Turkey will re­sume ben­e­fit­ting from a strate­gic and mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with Is­rael, sim­ply be­cause they share a com­mon en­emy – Syria. Af­ter all, de­spite the seem­ing cool­ing of ties with Ankara, Is­rael has en­joyed al­most broth­erly re­la­tions with Azer­bai­jan, trans­fer­ring the priv­i­leges pre­vi­ously en­joyed by Ankara fur­ther east to Baku.

It is clear that de­spite an uptick in tourist ar­rivals, Cyprus will never be able to com­pete with the big­ger des­ti­na­tions of Turkey and Greece in at­trac­tive Rus­sian tourists, ad­mit­tedly bet­ter spenders than the Bri­tish.

Let us get off our high horse and fo­cus on what we have and not what we would as­pire to get one day. For now, and in the ab­sence of a com­pet­i­tive fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor, let’s fo­cus on the en­ergy sec­tor, what with the gas dis­cov­er­ies, al­ter­na­tive sources and the am­bi­tious elec­tric in­ter­con­nec­tor project, while we keep ig­nor­ing a golden op­por­tu­nity right un­der our noses, the ship­ping and ship­man­age­ment sec­tors, both ar­eas that pro­vide sta­bil­ity and fu­ture prospects at all lev­els.

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