THE Cyprus shipping registry is marking 50 years since its establishment.

“The excellent progress of the Cyprus registry has placed our country in the global maritime map”, Minister of Communications and Works Tasos Mitsopoulos said.

Mitsopoulos gave a brief overview of the Cyprus shipping registry noting that it was established in 1963, reaching in 1974 3.5 million tons capacity, while in 2013 and despite restrictions imposed by Turkey since 1987 to vessels under Cypriot flag, it ranks 10th globally and 3rd in the EU, having registered 1,857 ocean going vessels of a total capacity of over 21 million tons and with a contribution to GDP of close to 5%.

He continued to assure that the achievements of the last 50 years are not a source of complacency but rather urge Cyprus on towards greater success.

The government, he noted, aims to further enhance the Cyprus shipping registry and other equally as important areas of Cyprus shipping.

He added that achieving this goal requires a continuous upgrading of the quality of services offered by the state, of safety standards on Cyprus vessels and of promoting the advantages of the flag and Cyprus itself as a maritime and ship management centre, as well as offering further incentives, whether they may be tax related or otherwise, always in accordance with the acquis communautaire.

Replying to a question as to certain stagnation as regards attracting new vessels Mitsopoulos said that Cyprus’ EU accession which was followed by a review of the legislative framework, greater international competition particularly from registries of convenience as well as the Turkish embargo on Cyprus vessels.

Despite having this significant draw back in relation to other competitive registries, the Republic of Cyprus continues to have a credible and noteworthy registry and continues to be one of the biggest ship management centers in the world, he pointed out.

The Cypriot Minister continued noting that Cyprus’ recent re-election at the International Maritime Organisation’s Council, in combination with a variety of tax and other incentives which are under review will contribute to facing the problems ahead.

We are under no illusions that the Turkish embargo could easily stop from one day to the next but we are optimistic that via an extrovert and aggressive policy we will be able to attract new vessels at the Cyprus registry and maintain our position as one of the largest ship management centres in the world, he said.

Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern areas since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member. In April 1987 it imposed restrictions on Cypriot flagged vessels and in May 1997 Ankara issued new orders to extend the restrictions to include ships under a foreign flag which had any relation with the Republic of Cyprus

These restrictions disrupt shipping and air traffic, in addition to causing huge financial and other problems. Annual losses for Cyprus’ economy because of the restrictions amounted to 138.5 million euro in 2008, accounting for 1.3 % of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The shipping industry records annual losses amounting to 100 m. euro.

It is noted that 16% of the EU registered ships cannot dock at Turkish ports.

The Cyprus shipping register represents nearly 12% of the European registry and one quarter of the world’s ship management is represented by Cyprus.

Several official EU documents outline Turkey’s legal obligation to lift its embargo on Cypriot and EU shipping but so far Ankara has refused to meet its EU commitments.

The Cyprus ship registry today ranks 10th among international fleets and 3rd in the EU. Cyprus is also a major ship management centre worldwide, with approximately 60 ship management companies operating on the island.