Doha, October 20 (QNA) – The Cypriot Government spokesman, HE Stefanous Stefanou, hailed Qatar’s leading position as the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world, while emphasizing the importance of expanding bilateral energy cooperation following gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean Island s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“Qatar is the biggest exporter of LNG in the world. It has successful experience in this field and has developed new technologies to enhance environmental performance and LNG technology,” Stefanou told Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the occasion of the ongoing Cyprus’s six month term of presidency.
“Cyprus has recently discovered large hydrocarbon reservoirs in its EEZ, the exploitation of which is estimated within a period of five to six years,” he explained, stressing that Cyprus can benefit from cooperation with Qatar and “learn from its experience.”
“Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy between the two countries is under negotiation,” the spokesman added.
On the challenges for Cyprus’ EU presidency, Stefanou admitted that the assumption of the EU Presidency is not only a “great challenge” but also a “unique opportunity” for his country to make a lasting contribution towards European integration, while enhancing its image as a “credible” and “responsible” member of the EU.
“Our goal is to exercise an absolutely successful European Presidency,” he said.
He stated that “we firmly believe that the EU needs to emerge stronger from the crisis by further deepening European integration towards supporting growth and social cohesion in order to ensure a better quality of life for the European citizens,” adding that the Cyprus Presidency will work towards a “better Europe,” a “more efficient Europe,” contributing to sustainable and inclusive growth and job creation.
“Working towards a Better Europe is something that we owe to the younger generations, which suffer the most and consequently lose confidence in the EU,” explained Stefanou.
Asked if the Cyprus s request to the EU and the IMF for financial assistance to address the large exposure of its financial sector to Greece would affect its role as Presidency, Stefanou said the two issues are “not connected.”
The fact that “Cyprus has applied to the European institutions to help solve problems that have arose mainly in our banking sector due to the Greek economy has absolutely nothing to do with our ability to carry out an excellent Presidency of the European Council,” he explained. He highlighted that “the economy of Cyprus stands on sound and solid foundations and its fiscal indicators are doing much better than other European countries in both the Euro-zone and Europe, but also compared to the EU average.”
The island s public debt stands at 72% of Gross National Product (GNP).
Furthermore, Cyprus has thoroughly prepared for the Presidency, and all administrative and organizational measures have already been taken. Thus, a fully successful Presidency is guaranteed, as emphasized by the Cypriot Government Spokesman. In fact a number of senior EU officials have expressed full confidence in the readiness of Cyprus to take on this great responsibility.
The adoption of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 in line with the mandate given by the European Council for the completion of negotiations by the end of 2012 poses the “greatest challenge” for the Cyprus Presidency, said Stefanou.
The MFF is not only a mechanism for ensuring that the EU is spending in a predictable and disciplined manner, it also sets political priorities for future years, he explained
“The ceiling proposed by the EU Commission is 1.025 billion Euros,” explained Stefanou, who exemplified his optimism to reach an agreement that, will contribute to economic social and territorial cohesion.
“The Presidency will follow on from the work accomplished by the Danish Presidency and aim to contribute to the successful completion of the MFF negotiations,” he added.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council has called for a special summit of the European Union’s leadership for 22-23 November to negotiate the EU’s budget for 2014-20 after it became clear that a political agreement on MFF would not be within reach of a summit scheduled for 18-19 October.
In 2003, Cyprus opened its embassy in Doha, the first ever in the GCC region and appointed Nicosia’s first resident ambassador to Doha.
In September 2008, the State of Qatar opened its embassy in Nicosia.
Trade relations and contacts between Cyprus and Qatar go back to the middle of 1950s, when Cypriot businessmen came to Qatar in order to invest and make business in the country.
Cyprus imports from Qatar have increased by 97 % in 2010 compare to 2006 while its exports have increased by 51% during the same period, according to the Cyprus Trade Centre in Dubai.
Qatar absorbs 1.2% of Cyprus exports in 2010; making it the 22nd largest market for Cyprus.
The main products exported from Cyprus to Qatar during 2010 were furniture (5,306 euro), clothing (621,000 euro), dairy products (355,000 euro), pharmaceuticals (306,000 euro) and others (452,000 euro) , totaling to 7,040,000 euros.
The country imported mineral fuel, oil and products of distillation worth 11, 284,000 euro from Qatar in 2010.
In 2010, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and the Cypriot government agreed to set up a joint venture for the development of a leisure complex, with the initial investment exceeding US$150 million. (END)