With the implementation of the action plan and the quality services and incentives that Cyprus offers, we are optimistic that Cypriot shipping will continue to be resilient and competitive, says the new Deputy Minister of Shipping, Marina Hatzimanoli, in an interview with KYPE, noting that the aim is to attracting new quality ships to the Cypriot registry and installing more shipping companies on the island.
At the same time, she considers the goal of decarbonizing shipping by 2050 feasible, considers the close cooperation of regulatory authorities and the private sector as a condition for dealing with the challenges, while declaring herself optimistic about the sustainability of the maritime passenger connection of Cyprus – of Greece, indicating that the tickets for this season are almost sold out.
In her interview, Marina Hatzimanoli was initially asked about her feelings, as from the municipal council of the Municipality of Limassol, she is now in the position of Deputy Minister of Shipping , saying she is proud to continue serving her fellow citizens and her country in this capacity.
"I am grateful to PtD Nikos Christodoulidis, for the honor of entrusting me with the important and vital, for the national economy, Deputy Ministry of Shipping, said and assured that “principles and values will continue to be the axes of my policy, as it has been since the position of municipal councilor, in the Municipality of Limassol, with the sole aim of implementing, in the best possible way, the project entrusted to us by the citizens.
The further improvement and development of Cypriot shipping is a primary goal of the Christodoulidis administration, he continued and noted that "our efforts, at the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, are aimed at ensuring a competitive sector, laying solid foundations for a prosperous future".
To this end, as he stated, the digitization of the procedures and services of the Deputy Ministry is expected to be completed in May 2024 "and our immediate actions include a targeted action plan to attract new quality ships to the Cyprus Register and the establishment of new companies in Cyprus" ?.
Specifically and referring to her priorities, the Deputy Minister said that she "is already prepared targeted promotion action plan for the year 2023, with the ultimate aim of strengthening and developing Cypriot shipping, while he considers it imperative need to promote and showcase the advantages that Cyprus offers as a shipping center.
"The effort will be focused both on our existing customers in Cyprus and abroad by highlighting the seriousness and importance given to the sector by the Christodoulidis Government", he said and added that "the ensuring the financial stability of companies doing business with Cyprus, is one of our main advantages and we should applaud it, to promote it but also to constantly strengthen it».
"We are optimistic that with the quality services and incentives we offer, together with the implementation of the promotion plan we prepared for 2023, Cyprus Shipping will continue to be resilient and competitive and will be a pioneer in international shipping events", he added.< /p>
Additionally, Mrs. Hatzimanoli said that "in recent years, the shipping industry has faced many challenges, both at the European and global level" and noted that "undoubtedly, the green transformation, carbonization and geopolitical developments are the current challenges that we must face effectively, so that the competitiveness of our shipping is not affected. At the same time, he indicated that "a necessary condition for success is the close cooperation of the regulatory authorities with the private sector to formulate practical and applicable solutions".
The Deputy Minister noted that Cyprus treats the issue of shipping decarbonisation as of utmost importance, recognizing that the marine environment and shipping is one of the most valuable resources and an integral part of the Cypriot economy.
“As one of the leading shipping centers we feel responsible to accelerate the transition of Cypriot shipping to a low-carbon industry”, he said and indicated that, “we have an active presence in the processes of both the EU and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ), with proposals that take into account the particularities of the maritime sector. "Cyprus has a strong voice in the decision-making processes and we always try to responsibly promote social and environmental policies, with the aim of maintaining competitiveness and ensuring the future viability of the sector", he added.
He also reminded that Cyprus, as a member state of the EU, a member of the IMO and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea from Ships, participates to a large extent in the formulation of the new environmental regulations and signed the Convention for zero emissions in shipping , until 2050.
A goal that, according to the Deputy Minister, although it is a challenge, is achievable, «considering that biofuels are already available on the market, the use of renewable energy sources is constantly evolving and technology is evolving, so alternative fuels should be available on the market”.
At the same time, he noted that many ships are undergoing sea trials using such fuels, among them several ships flying the Cypriot flag, which are testing the use of biofuels .
"The Deputy Ministry of Shipping, bearing in mind the regulations that will come into force this year, but also in the coming years, at the international and European level – such as the revised Annex VI of MARPOL, FUEL-EU and EU-ETS – is ready to respond to any request, by training his staff, but also by informing all the agencies involved», he added.
In relation to the EU sanctions against Russia, due to the invasion of Ukraine, Marina Hatzimanoli stated that the Deputy Ministry of Shipping had to improve its internal mechanisms for the related management, "which was immediate". We took, he continued, decisions and issued relevant directives, while "the technocratic team of the Shipping Department is constantly alert and deals diligently, within the framework of the EU, both at the level of discussions on the formulation of sanctions, and at the level of their implementation" .
Despite the sanctions, he underlined, big giants have trusted the Cypriot registry, such as Royal Caribbean, which has registered one of its large cruise ships and in the coming months plans to open an office in Limassol, as well as MSC Cruises. In addition, he continued, shipping companies based on the island increased from 273 in 2021 to 302 in 2022.
«Despite the challenges, we are proud of Cypriot shipping. Despite the adversities, the Cypriot registry has shown resilience and remains the EU's third largest fleet and 11th globally, he added and emphasized that Cyprus is one of the few shipping centers in the world that combines an international registry of recognized prestige. and quality, as well as a shipping complex with a wide range of shipping and related services, management, fuel supply, technology, shipping agents and many other related services.
Asked to report on the Cyprus passenger connection – Greece, the Deputy Minister said that she put the issue in her priorities and that, since last year's reopening of the line, it became clear that indeed serves the needs of Cypriots, Greeks and other European citizens who face difficulties in traveling by air.
"At the same time, the sea passenger connection seems to have started to create a new segment of the tourist market for travelers who wish to travel to and from Cyprus, with their private cars and two-wheelers, offering an alternative mode of transport" he mentioned, while he considers as indicative of the appeal the service has, the fact that since the first day of ticket sales for this year, on April 11, more than 3,500 reservations were made, with the result that there are only a few tickets available.
Forecasts and data so far are positive, regarding the long-term viability of the line, continued the Deputy Minister and expressed the hope that, after the end of the subsidy from the state, the Cyprus-Greece maritime connectivity will continue seamlessly and become the trigger for the maritime connection of Cyprus and other neighboring countries in the near future.
He also said that the addition of the port of Larnaca, "it is a great example that Cyprus, as an island maritime state, is ready to make the most of its blue infrastructure, as well as its human potential, strengthening its competitiveness, within the context of the wider development of the maritime industry".
The contracting company, according to the Deputy Minister, listened to the desire and constant request of our compatriots, for the addition of routes from the port of Larnaca, so that there is easy access and service to the citizens of all provinces, as well as tourists, from the international Larnaca airport and decided to include Larnaca port in 8 of its 22 routes, with the first route starting on July 29, from Larnaca and the last one from Piraeus to Larnaca on September 1.
Asked to comment on information that interventions were made so that Limassol does not completely lose its routes, due to the high port fees, Ms. Hatzimanoli stated that "the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, as the Contracting Authority, has no involvement whatsoever in the selection or promotion/qualification of one of the two ports of the Republic, while at the same time limiting its activities to the general enforcement of the terms of the Convention.
" The choice of the Cypriot port that will serve the service of the Cyprus-Greece maritime passenger connection is the exclusive privilege and right of the contracting company”, he said and reminded that the terms of the tender documents of the announcement of the open European tender for the Cyprus-Greece maritime passenger connection, as well as the Contract signed by the contracting company, give it the right to choose to use one of the Republic's ports (Limes or Larnaca) or both, provided that only one Cypriot port will be used on the same trip.
When asked how she envisions Cypriot shipping in five years, the Deputy Minister wished that all goals would be achieved and all outstanding issues would be settled, which would allow the attraction of more shipping companies to the island and the registration of more ships in the Cypriot registry.
In the full digital environment that the Deputy Ministry is expected to operate, as he said, the simplified procedures will provide immediate service to the shipping industry, contributing to the establishment of Cyprus in an international integrated shipping center, with a high-quality national registry and shipping complex.
He also reminded that, as part of the implementation of the one-stop service, on October 6, 2022, the Limited Liability Shipping Company (N.E.P.E.) Law was passed and the adoption of secondary legislation is pending for the Law to enter into force.
He also expressed the hope that maritime culture would be established among young people, so that more people would choose the maritime profession and that the increase in the number of students in maritime schools would continue, which, as he noted, included and to the immediate goals of the Deputy Ministry.
At the same time, he stated that efforts are being made so that in the coming years, the Deputy Ministry will be housed in a new, modern building "as befits a maritime power like Cyprus", as today services are housed in three different buildings, which creates, as he said, operational and practical problems.