How will a partnership with the UAE contribute to help the Cypriot energy sector to achieve its full potential?
The recent discovery of natural gas reserves within Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone has unveiled the potential for Cyprus to become the Eastern Mediterranean's energy hub. This potential in turn can create tremendous prospects for investments and cooperation in the energy sector and auxiliary services, presenting new opportunities for growth in the well-established sectors of legal and financial services as well as the construction sector. Our decision to build an onshore LNG terminal would allow for the transportation and liquefaction of gas produced not only by Cyprus, but also by neighboring countries, thus ensuring the possibility of our region securely exporting gas to the European and Asian markets. From a political perspective, the Cypriot LNG terminal can be a hub for regional cooperation and a vehicle for regional dialogue between the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.
What value-added linkages can Cyprus and the UAE mutually develop?
Cyprus is already a well-established and reliable international business hub, with a very attractive operating environment and modern infrastructure. As such, and due to the country's strategic location and EU membership, it can offer the UAE economy value-added linkages that very few countries in the region can match. Cyprus, after all, possesses a very unique blend of advantages—about 50 double tax treaties in force, a favorable and efficient tax regime and transparent legal framework, a highly educated and experienced workforce in the fields of services, logistics and retail, and one of the most competitive corporate tax rates in Europe at 12.5%.
Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Cyprus, stated the importance of the four agreements recently signed by the two nations to improve bilateral relations in different economic sectors. Which are the highlights of these four agreements?
Cyprus and UAE have signed a bilateral agreement for cooperation in the air travel services sector and MoUs on energy, tourism, education, and science. The Agreement on Air Travel Services provides for the granting of rights within the framework of the “fifth freedom" for Emirates Airline to several destinations within Europe. The MoU on Energy provides for the establishment of a general framework of cooperation on energy issues and the creation of favorable conditions with regard to the exchange of technical expertise in offshore operations for the exploitation of hydrocarbons. It also provides for the exchange of technical expertise on issues of energy infrastructure and the distribution of energy. The MoU on Tourism provides for the planning and development of tourism cooperation with the exchange of technical expertise and the mutual promotion of the tourist products of the two countries. Finally, the MoU on Education and Science provides for the exchange of educational missions, granting of scholarships, and cooperation to finalize an agreement on the mutual recognition of academic degrees.
What are Cyprus' future plans concerning the opening of avenues of bilateral cooperation in fields such as higher education and scientific research?
Cyprus aspires to become an international educational center. For this reason, a national strategy is set in place to promote the international attractiveness of its higher education and scientific research. The government is committed to realizing this noble vision. We consider our Arab neighbors in general, and the UAE in particular, as potential strategic education and scientific research partners. We strongly believe that education is an area of mutual interest and possible cooperation, where we can work together to enrich our human capital, and promote Cyprus and the UAE as centers of academic excellence and innovative scientific research. Cyprus stands ready to pave the way for the signing of a bilateral inter-governmental educational and cultural agreement.