The idea of a Maritime Institute was conveyed by the Institute’s president Zacharias Shokouros, and Cyprus Shipping Chamber general manager Thomas A. Kozakos. The Institute can be developed by taking advantage of the relevant grants of the European Structural Funds, as well as by involving theEuropean Investment Bank. In essence, the proposal entails the creation of a higher education centre for nearly the whole spectrum of maritime activities.
The proposed name of the Institute is ‘Tasos Mitsopoulos’, in honour of the late Minister of Communications and of Defence who had been one of the first to strongly support the initiative to create such an institute in Cyprus. The local Institute would be modelled on the National Maritime College of Ireland (www.nmci.ie). NMCI was created jointly by the public and private sectors of Cork, Ireland, and was the centre of many important scientific and commercial actions, which even include specialised training, innovation and research in the field of mining and exploitation of offshore hydrocarbons, both in Ireland and internationally.
The proposal also calls for the immediate involvement of Cyprus’ two public universities for the provision of high-level English-language education in the sectors of ‘Maritime Communication and Technology’ and ‘Maritime Sciences and Biotechnology’, as well as for a ‘Centre for Business Innovation and Maritime Technologies’ with the participation of relevant international organisations.
The Department of Maritime Communications and Technology provides both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Maritime Communications, Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering.
It also provides Competence Certificates to Merchant Naval Officers for the manning or management of ships operating under the Cypriot flag and for the management of shipping company offices in Cyprus.
In addition, the Institute will become the National Reference Point for the ‘Blue Professions’, operating as a Connecting Agency to the corresponding organisations of the Industry. By also acquiring its own ‘Training and Research vessel’, the Institute will make it easier for Cypriot Merchant Navy Cadet Officers to gain the required maritime service experience, while it will be able to utilise as teachers both the Cyprus Naval Command Officers and the staff of the domestic maritime industry. Both groups possess internationally acknowledged expertise in every sector of the modern Merchant Marine Industry.
The proposed seat of the Institute is a designated space that will be provided by the state in the city of Limassol, a suitable option being the space of the former Nemitsa factory that is situated next to the city’s harbour. The same space (16,000 square metres) can even simultaneously accommodate the related maritime state services. The proposal advises for the construction of the facilities to be the product of public-private sector collaboration – the private organisation will be responsible for construction and maintenance and will be repaid through a long-term lease from all corresponding public services.
Something similar is the case at the National Maritime College of Ireland. The Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean and the Cyprus Shipping Chamber reiterate to the government the example of Ireland which, like Cyprus, is a small island nation with an EEZ (exclusive economic zone) much larger than its size. In recent years, Ireland has managed to take great advantage of the opportunities offered by the sea, spending tens of millions of euros from European Programmes in infrastructure and training with the result of becoming distinguished in the sectors of Blue Education, Training, Research, Technology and Innovation, creating hundreds of new employment positions in the process. It is emphasised that the proposal is in essence a part implementation of the ‘Limassol Declaration’ on EU Integrated Maritime Policy, which was the highlight of the Cypriot EU presidency two years ago.