‘Cyprus is a reliable business centre’

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Cyprus is a “reliable business centre”, Commerce Minister George Papanastasiou said on Saturday.

Speaking at a business conference in New York, he said the island “has remained stable over the years, provides an environment in which investors can feel comfortable, and find services and contacts and lawyers.”

He added that the Cypriot legal system is “very closely related to English law, and it is trusted around the world.”

He then spoke about the importance of the Eastern Mediterranean region, saying it can “play a role in ensuring Europe’s energy security”.

With this in mind, he made reference to the planned Great Sea Interconnector, which would connect the electricity systems of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, saying that it can aid Europe in its effort to become independent of Russian gas.

The Cypriot and Greek governments have not seen eye to eye of late regarding the interconnector project, with Greek Energy Minister Theodoros Skylakakis warning the Cypriot government regarding missing deadlines for the project earlier this month.

The deadlines he was referring to pertain to the European Commission’s financial support for the plan under its Connecting Europe Facility, and an extra €100m pledged through the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

He said, “the case is that we took on a serious responsibility together with the Cypriot side, after the Commission had evaluated the project and had given us a huge investment in this project.”

“If this investment is lost, the chance of Cyprus being connected to the rest of Europe, and of the entire cable being realised, will be dramatically reduced.”

He added, “that is something which the Cypriot government will also have to evaluate.”

The Cypriot government is currently still in the phase of discussing conditions, with a final decision expected to be made by cabinet at some point in the future. Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (Admie) asked Cyprus at the start of March to pay its €100m financial share in the project.

Skylakakis said Greece “has shown a surplus of good will on this matter to help to try to not lose this project,” and emphasised again the possibility that the whole project may fall apart if Cyprus does not make a decision.

However, he made indications that he will not be willing to wait forever for Cyprus to come to a decision, saying “our final analysis will be based on our most important responsibility – to the Greek consumers and taxpayers.”

The Cypriot government responded in kind, saying they are still waiting on Greece’s transmission system operator Admie to submit a cost-benefit analysis of the project.

Papanastasiou said earlier this month that “the sooner these studies are submitted by Admie, the sooner the Cypriot government will make its final investment decision.”

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