articles | 22 May 2024

Cyprus and Greece discuss maritime competitiveness, digitalisation, and collaboration

Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanolis this week met with Greece’s Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Christos Stylianides, with the discussion focusing on the competitiveness of European shipping, the shortage of seafarers, the digitalisation of services, and the maritime passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece.

Moreover, the two sides agreed on practical cooperation to address the challenges facing the shipping industry. In a statement following the meeting, which took place on Tuesday afternoon in Limassol, Hadjimanolis described the discussion as productive, noting that “shipping is a significant pillar of economic development for both Greece and Cyprus.” She emphasised that cooperation is essential and excellent at all levels for the two maritime nations, which are united by long-standing historical ties and shared values and principles.

Hadjimanolis highlighted that, as EU member states and members of the International Maritime Organisation Council, “coordination and synergies are crucial in efforts to preserve the sustainability of global shipping, and by extension, the sustainability of our countries’ shipping industries”. Furthermore, she stated that with the establishment of the High Council of Greece and Cyprus, this cooperation has been integrated into a structured dialogue. “Today, we discussed issues of common interest with the aim of promoting joint actions and initiatives,” she said.

Specifically, they addressed the preservation of the competitiveness of European shipping, the promotion and advancement of maritime education, the exchange of expertise regarding the digitalisation of ship registries in both countries, and the creation of prospects for the sustainable operation of the maritime passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece. Hadjimanolis also pointed out that Cyprus will participate in Greece’s major maritime exhibition, Poseidonia 2024, next month, and thanked her counterpart for the excellent cooperation.

From his side, Greece’s Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Christos Stylianides stated that the meeting with the Deputy Minister of Shipping not only reaffirmed the national ties between Greece and Cyprus but also confirmed that the two countries remain pillars of European shipping. “I believe we have opened paths for further and more practical cooperation,” he said.

The exchange of views focused on three main points, starting with the competitiveness of European shipping. “The European economy as a whole faces competitiveness problems, which certainly affect European shipping,” Stylianides explained. He emphasised that “Cyprus and Greece are two countries that can maintain the competitiveness of European shipping, each potentially from different sectors”. “We decided to continue our well-known position in consultations with our European counterparts in various capitals,” he added.

Stylianides explained that this refers to the assertion that “the competitiveness of the European economy needs European shipping, as was evident during and after the pandemic”. He noted that for European shipping to maintain its competitiveness, it must realistically address issues related to the green transition and the relationship between European policies and those of the International Maritime Organisation. The second point discussed, Stylianides said, was the shortage of seafarers, which he described as a major problem for the international shipping community. “We will face a shortage of seafarers in the future, and Greece and Cyprus must find solutions to maintain our excellent human resources,” he said. “We want our young people to pursue maritime professions with high performance,” he added. He assured that efforts will be made to create new incentives and enhance the prestige of maritime professions so that Greek and Cypriot ships can have captains and engineers from their own countries. 

Moreover, Stylianides noted that this is a key goal for Greece, which has declared 2024 the Year of Maritime Education. Additionally, Stylianides mentioned that the meeting addressed “the critical issue of fully digitalising and simplifying the registry processes of the two ministries,” noting that “Greece has fallen behind in this area”. “We sought assistance from Cyprus, and we have it. We thank the Deputy Ministry and its staff very much. This is how it should be; we exchange know-how, and whoever is more advanced offers it generously because we are interconnected in this sector,” he said.

When asked if the Greek government could support the sustainability of the maritime passenger connection between the two countries, he reminded of the difficulties in overcoming the issues raised by the European Commission. “In my opinion, it should remain a primary issue for Cyprus, and the Cypriot government should support it as it currently does, because otherwise, we will face further challenges,” he stated. “The viability of the venture will become clear after the completion of the first cycle,” he added, urging Greeks and Cypriots to continue utilising the service.


Source: Cyprus Mail

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