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18-04-2024 19:32

Speech of the Deputy Minister of Shipping, Ms Marina Hadjimanolis, at the opening reception of the inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting

Honourable Rt Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth,

Your excellency Prime Minister of Tonga,

Honourable Ministers,

Esteemed guests,

Good evening and welcome to the beautiful island of Cyprus.

Allow me to extend a heartfelt welcome and sincere appreciation to each one of you for embracing this inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting in Cyprus with your presence.

Cyprus is honoured to have the opportunity to host and organise this significant gathering, stemming from our commitment expressed after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, back in June 2022. At that pivotal gathering, the Heads of Governments acknowledged the imperative for conserving and sustainably utilising our oceans, seas and marine resources.

Tomorrow marks a historic moment as we convene the first-ever Commonwealth ministerial meeting focused solely on the ocean. Under the overarching theme of "Our resilient common ocean: from Cyprus to Samoa", this meeting aims to cultivate a unified Commonwealth stance on oceanic issues.

Through the exchange of insights and experiences regarding the implementation of international commitments and the Commonwealth Blue Charter, we endeavour to outline the principles, priorities and actions that will shape the future Commonwealth Ocean Declaration. Our collective aim is to chart a course and establish a timeline that will culminate in the adoption of this Declaration at the Head of Governments Meeting in Samoa in a few months.

As a maritime nation, Cyprus acknowledges the immense value our seas and oceans hold not only for our economy but also for our cultural identity. We are steadfast in our conviction that intensified efforts are imperative to conserve marine ecosystems and safeguard marine life.

Cyprus recognises that the challenges our oceans are facing are monumental and cannot be tackled single-handedly by any nation.

Shipping is a sector which is of great pride to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. It is well known that Cyprus is a fully fledged maritime centre, comprised of a quality ship registry and a maritime cluster providing ship management services and numerous other shipping related services.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to inform you that the first National Maritime Spatial Plan was recently approved by the Council of Ministers and has already entered into force. Through the Maritime Spatial Plan, the Republic aims to contribute to the sustainable development of the Blue Economy as well as the protection, preservation and improvement of the marine environment. It is envisaged that the plan will encourage investments in the marine waters of the Republic by creating predictability, transparency and clearer licensing rules.

I want to assure you that, despite the current turbulent times and the various challenges we face, the Shipping Deputy Ministry stays firm in its commitment to navigating a course towards a more efficient, sustainable and prosperous future for shipping and maritime affairs.

In closing, I extend my best wishes for a successful and fruitful deliberation as we embark on the inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting tomorrow and, of course, wishing all an enjoyable stay in the island of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, here at the beautiful Aphrodite Hills Resort! A small gift with traditional products will be available for you at the end of the reception, which we hope you enjoy.

Thank you.

I now give the floor to the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr Maria Panayiotou, for her welcome address, which will be followed by the address of the Honourable Rt Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, whom we have the great honour to have here with us at this important gathering.