Address by the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President, Ms Natasa Pilides, at the PIO exhibition “The Maritime Tradition of Cyprus”, hosted by the Museu de Marinha, in Lisbon
It is a great pleasure to be present here tonight at the opening of the exhibition “The Maritime Tradition of Cyprus”, which we believe is a very comprehensive review of the history of shipping in Cyprus, put together by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus. The exhibition illustrates that the history of maritime Cyprus is in fact as old as the history of the island itself, bearing the stamp of all the civilizations that have flourished on the island over the centuries.
The depth of the Cyprus maritime tradition is of no surprise if one considers the characteristics of the island which, in its geography, its demographics and the skills of its inhabitants has been both a popular trading route and a country of great maritime skills. In ancient times, shipbuilding was a great skill in which Cypriots were specialized, enabling the island to develop one of the largest fleets worldwide despite its small size.
Even today, the Cyprus Ship Registry ranks among the leading ship registries internationally and it is the third largest within the European Union. Yet our maritime tradition goes far beyond our registry, as Cyprus is also ranked as the largest third-party ship management centre in Europe and amongst the top five in the world. Today Cyprus hosts more than 200 companies operating within the maritime sector, employing 9,000 people onshore and more than 35,000 people at sea.
The maintenance of a high quality fleet and the effective implementation of the internationally applicable standards for the safety of life at sea, the security of ships and port facilities, the continuous training and development, the protection of the marine environment and the standards for decent work on board ships is the foundation on which Cyprus builds its reputation as a maritime flag of excellence and as a base for international operations.
We are more than aware that as a maritime nation, we are much stronger not on our own, but as part of a dynamic and forward-looking team. This is why we attach so much importance to EMSA’s work. Since becoming a member of the European Union (EU) in 2004, Cyprus has played a positive and constructive role in the Agency’s endeavours to achieve its objectives, to provide member states and the Commission with technical and scientific assistance in order to help member states to properly apply the Union legislation. We assure you that this excellent collaboration will continue and be expanded in every possible way.
To this end, we must reiterate and emphasise the need for international cooperation in order to tackle the challenges that maritime transport faces today. That is why Cyprus attributes so much importance to the IMO’s special and central role in facilitating international collaboration.
It is our belief that regulating the changing environment and managing the potential effects at all levels and points of the value chain gives the Shipping Deputy Ministry not only a great responsibility but the opportunity to develop innovative and improved solutions at a domestic and at an international level.
Our top priority is to maintain and improve the exceptionally high quality for which the Cyprus flag is renowned, as well as the upgraded services offered to each and every one of our clients. With the creation of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, an autonomous governmental body dedicated to handling all shipping and shipping-related activities, Cyprus has the opportunity now more than ever to promote the interests of the shipping industry in a more direct, efficient and effective way through comprehensive strategies.
On behalf of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, I would like to once again express my appreciation to the Ambassador of Cyprus in Portugal, Mr Andreas Ignatio, and the Director of the Press and Information Office of Cyprus, Ms Sophie Michaelides, for organizing this prestigious event and to congratulate them for their excellent work.
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