Pres­i­dent takes per­sonal in­ter­est in re­viv­ing ferry link to Greece

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Kyr­i­a­cos Kil­iaris

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

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