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13-10-2021 08:03

Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, at the 'Diplomat of the Year Awards 2021' event, yesterday

It is with truly great pleasure that I address tonight’s Diplomat of the Year Awards, organized for the third consecutive year by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Awards - now a well-established annual event in the diplomatic calendar of Cyprus - celebrate the invaluable contribution made by Ambassadors and Diplomatic Missions accredited to Cyprus, to the enhancement of economic and business ties between our countries.

Despite the unprecedented global challenges generated by the pandemic, this gathering provides a moment of collective reflection on what has been a year of remarkable and vibrant diplomatic activity, despite the conditions imposed by COVID-19.

In this respect, I am deeply thankful and appreciative to each and every one of you, and to all your associates, for your tireless efforts in enhancing our bilateral relations, in particular in the field of economic diplomacy, for the benefit of the peoples of our countries.

I would also like to congratulate the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its President for envisioning the Diplomat of the Year Awards and for their commitment to the continuation of what is by now a well-established, successful initiative.

Dear friends,

The global pandemic has radically disrupted all aspects of our lives, with an adverse impact on public health, our economies and our societies.  

Despite the initial inward-looking measures that Governments introduced in order to safeguard public health, it soon became evident that the answers to the challenges are to be found not in isolationism, but in collective action, in joining forces to manage a common enemy, starting with developing and distributing vaccines in an effective manner.

A core challenge now, as the world vaccination cover increases, is to pursue fair and equitable access for every person in the world in order to ensure that no country is left behind with respect to its recovery, thus strengthening global prospects. 

In this regard, it is my firm belief that effective multilateral action is necessary: to eliminate divergences, limit adverse spill overs, and ease policy space constraints at the level of individual economies. That is because our world, our people, our economies are, in fact, deeply interconnected and interdependent. National-level policies are indeed needed to supplement and reinforce these efforts and to boost a sustainable, inclusive global recovery for all.

Dear friends,

World economic activity has been picking-up during 2021, as reflected in the encouraging current and projected growth rates. However, a number of pandemic-related challenges remain, including supply chain disruptions, inflation pressures and shortage of workers. At the same time, other global challenges are equally pressing, such as climate change, cybercrime and extremism. 

We, therefore, stand at a critical juncture and are presented with a unique opportunity to rebuild for a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable recovery, in order to safeguard the welfare of our citizens. In doing so, like minded countries must identify new ways to work together to drive these necessary changes more efficiently and more effectively.

At the EU level, member states joined forces to boost recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, by adopting the largest stimulus package ever financed in Europe, known as “NextGenerationEU”. 

The EU’s COVID-19 economic recovery mechanism is foreseen to disseminate 750 billion Euro in loans and grants to member states, to help them address the economic and social impact of the pandemic and to help make European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Within this framework, Cyprus has developed an ambitious national Recovery and Resilience Plan, which includes a total of no less than 133 reforms and investments, many of which will focus on the country’s green and digital transition. The Plan is also aligned with the new long-term strategy for a sustainable growth model for Cyprus, namely “Vision 2035”. The objective is to strengthen competitiveness of the economy, to improve its resilience to adverse internal and external factors, and to improve the potential for sustainable and long-term development.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

At a regional level but also globally, opportunities for cooperation are endless, especially once we realise our collective potential to thrive through collaboration. For diplomats, one of our core roles is to become drivers and facilitators of cross-country cooperation, both on the recovery from COVID-19 and on other transnational challenges. As the world starts to rebuild, we should be focusing on like-minded countries coming together, deepening cooperation in fields such as health, technology, trade and climate change. To this effect, I am absolutely convinced that Economic Diplomacy can play a role that is more instrumental than ever before.

As you all know, during the last few years we have made it a priority at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to further develop Economic Diplomacy, in order to promote more effectively the economic and business cooperation of Cyprus with other countries, providing a much-needed boost to our economy. Since 2016 we have been taking steady and decisive steps in this direction, working together with all economic and business stakeholders in our country.

Towards this end, as of June last year the Government is represented in the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as its sole shareholder, following a decision by the Council of Ministers. This paves the way for closer cooperation and the development of synergies with Cyprus’ diplomatic missions abroad. 

As recently as last week, the Council of Ministers approved the Economic Diplomacy Strategy, which defines our strategic approach for the next three years and sets up a cooperation mechanism between all the competent Ministries, for its effective implementation. 

The desired impact of the strategy is enhanced economic prosperity from increased trade, foreign direct investment, innovation and national branding through strengthened Government capacity and international influence, maximizing benefits from diplomatic activities.

This will be pursued through the following strategic objectives:

  • Contribute to increased exports and market share for the Cypriot business sector.
  • Attract efficiency-seeking and strategic asset-seeking types of foreign direct investment, which maximize value-added and can trigger innovation spillovers to the economy.
  • Promote a coherent and cohesive brand for Cyprus abroad.

It is important to point out that economic diplomacy is implemented in full alignment with the policy axes of the Government and in line with the political priorities of the competent Ministries, as reflected in the Strategic Framework for Fiscal Policy and in the Annual Government Budget.

The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of our key partners in this framework. In this respect, I want to take this opportunity to express appreciation for the Chamber's long-standing contribution and service to the economy and the business community of Cyprus since 1927. We are committed to strengthening cooperation with all of you – Ambassadors and all diplomats accredited to Cyprus alike - in an effort to further enhance our economic, political and cultural ties.

It is a vision of resilience and sustainability that I know we all share, in our immediate region of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Gulf, in our big family which is the EU, and in the whole world.

Before closing, I would, of course, like to extend my warm congratulations in advance to the winners of this year’s event, who will be announced shortly. We may not know who you are yet, but we are certain that your outstanding efforts throughout the past year are acknowledged by your fellow Ambassadors and the business community of Cyprus; rest assured that your inspirational work is also deeply appreciated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I thank you all for your attention and I wish you an enjoyable evening. 

(MG/ECHR)