President takes personal interest in reviving ferry link to Greece
Anastasiades has instructed the Transport Ministry and the junior ministry for shipping to come up with a strategy that could make the sea link viable.
DISY MP Nicos Tornaritis told the Financial Mirror that President Anastasiades has taken a great interest in the project and has involved himself in the process.
“After meeting with the President, he too was convinced that the project will be to the benefit of the country. He has given instructions for the necessary research to be conducted so a proposal is formulated,” said Tornaritis.
Deputy Shipping Minister Natasa Pilides and Communications and Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou met on Friday to exchanges views on whether the ferry link - phased out in 2000 - can be reinstated.
Costas Iacovou, the Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Shipping Ministry told the Financial Mirror that the meeting went well with the two officials expressing their support for the project.
“The ministers have agreed that the ferry link will ultimately benefit Cyprus and Greece, tightening commercial ties and enhancing tourist flows,” said Iacovou.
He said they “have felt people’s vibes” as expressed through the online petition demanding the reinstatement of the line, which has been signed by 11,800 people to date.
The shipping junior ministry will now take over efforts to promote the project by researching the costs of resuming the sea link and a proposal will be made to the government on the best path to follow.
A ferry link between Cyprus and Greece will in no way be viable without finance from either the European Union or the state.
Iacovou said that as things stand, no company will be interested to take on the task of running the line as costs will be too high. He said that such a link will require big boats. “This is not the first time the issue has arisen. But we always got hung up on the issue of financing the link,” he explained.
He said that the options for funding the sea link are either to have the EU directly financing it, as it does with the Greek islands and the sea link between Marseille and Corsica, or have the state subsidise it.
“In any case, Brussels will have to approve this as the EU does not allow state financing” . Iacovou agrees it will not be an easy task as it will be difficult to convince Brussels to finance an inter-state connection.
“As is known the bloc keeps a tight grip on state financing projects or sectors, a holistic approach will need to be adopted in order to prepare a proposal which will be backed up with the necessary arguments and proof. Our job is to come up with the best way to find the money needed for the project.”
DISY MPs Tornaritis and Annita Demetriou tabled the issue to be discussed in parliament at the end of last month, in a move to exert pressure on the governments of Cyprus and Greece to revive the ferry route.
There has been no ferry link between the two countries since it was stopped at the beginning of the millennium when operator Salamis Tours phased it out due to cost.
Tornaritis and Demetriou argue that the link is of utmost importance as it would create new prospects for further development of trade relations between Cyprus and Greece, as well as promoting Cypriot trade and exports to the rest of Europe.
Both Demetriou and Tornaritis are confident that renewed efforts will not have the same drowned in the water.
Tornaritis argues that the EU has an obligation to support with any means available the ferry connection between the two countries and by extension Cyprus’ connection to mainland Europe.
“The difference from the other times the matter was up for discussion is that for the first time it is to be examined through a European Union scope. The EU is all about freedom of movement of people and goods. Cyprus as an island and Europe’s most eastern state is cut off from Europe,” said the MP.
Demetriou said that positive messages have come out of both the meeting that took place on Friday between the ministers and the meeting she and Tornaritis had with the Deputy Minister of Shipping on Wednesday.
“This is the first time the issue is being discussed on an official level between ministries. We would like to see the dialogue continuing on an institutional level,” said Demetriou. She and her colleague have had meetings with institutions in Greece and have been encouraged by how they were able to get EU financing for sea links to remote Aegean and Ionic islands.
“The project is feasible, and we are more than sure that if the project gets the green light, then there will be keen interest from local and foreign investors to get involved,” said Demetriou.
fate as previous ones that
There has been no ferry link from Cyprus to Greece since 2000