January 16, 2018

Exclusive interview of President Anastasiades on GBTIMES – Greece

Interview topic: Interview with the President of Cyprus

Interviewee name and occupation: Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Date and location of interview: Nicosia, 11 April 2014

Interviewer: Dimitriou Dimitris


Cyprus President, Nicos Anastasiades, hopes to see greater investment and tourism from China.

Speaking exclusively to gbtimes, the President reflects on the island’s economic accomplishments in overcoming the 2012-2013 Cypriot financial crisis.

Whilst austerity measures imposed by the Troika of international lenders has helped bring the country back from the brink of bankruptcy, Nicos Anastasiades knows only new investments carry the hope of creating new jobs.

With greater incentives, tax breaks, and even residence permits in exchange for capital, Cyprus hopes to attract even larger number of Chinese businesspeople.

Time code Person English
00.01 Interviewer Mr President, it is a great honour for us in gbtimes to have this interview with you. We will begin with questions about Cyprus’ economy, which is a vital issue. One year has passed since Cyprus entered the European Stability Mechanism. Where does the Cypriot economy stand today, compared to one year ago?
00.22 Anastasiades I would like to thank you for the opportunity you give me to communicate with the thousands or millions of people who visit the gbtimes website. Concerning your question, I would like to divide it into two parts: public finances, and the consequences for the private sector.
00.49 Anastasiades In public finances, it seems that we have indeed made spectacular progress. Three evaluations by the Troika have been very positive. As for the results, regarding the recession and other parameters, they are much better than predicted.Recession is seen at 5.3% instead of the forecasted 8.7%. This is a huge difference.
01.20 Anastasiades Apart from this, evaluations and comments are most positive among the countries submitted to a bailout program.Furthermore, for the first time in the last three years, in November we had our first ratings upgrade by Standard and Poor’s. However, the most important development is the downward trend of Cypriot bond spreads which have fallen from a peak of 15% to 5.5% today.
01.56 Anastasiades Within one year, we have achieved such conditions and perspectives proving that we have made spectacular progress thanks to our consistency in applying the program. However we are not saying this with satisfaction or self-contentment, because there is also the social impact.
02.24 Anastasiades Unemployment is close to 17%, and we are still in need of food banks. This is probably the biggest challenge we are facing. Unless we create prospects for investment, which will bring new jobs, we cannot tackle the very serious social issues caused by the crisis.
02.56 Interviewer What measures have been taken to restore foreign investors’ confidence?
03.03 Anastasiades We have consistently proceeded to the recapitalization and stabilization of the banking system through the recapitalization of the Hellenic Bank, the Bank of Cyprus and the Cooperative Bank.
03.18 Anastasiades At the same time, through a disciplined policy of public finance, we have taken a series of other measures, so as to restore confidence that the Cypriot state, through the consistent implementation of the announced measures to attract investment, creates the prerequisites for a stable and renascent economy. In this way we can restore the confidence both of foreign and society’s faith in the banking system.
04.08 Interviewer How do the recently found natural gas deposits change the general picture?
04.14 Anastasiades They give a new dimension to things, indeed, as they can act as a shield towards possible weaknesses that may arise.
04.32 Anastasiades The discovery of hydrocarbons, the licenses granted to important companies, the first samples, the planning for the construction of a Liquefied Energy Gas plant in Cyprus through which Israeli or even Lebanese gas will be processed, give new dimensions to our growth perspectives, guarantee our economic stability and open up perspectives for a healthy and prosperous economy.
05.16 Interviewer There has been some contemplation on the way gas will be exported abroad. Many solutions have been floated: an underwater pipeline to Egypt, the East Med pipeline to Greece, Italy and Europe, a pipeline to Israel and Turkey. Has the Cypriot government taken any decisions?
05.35 Anastasiades The Cypriot government is engaging in talks with Noble, ENI and Total to construct a Liquefied Natural Gas station in Cyprus. Through this station, we can become an energy gateway or an EU supply corridor.
05.59 Anastasiades After the resolution of the Cyprus question, we could take into consideration Turkey’s interest in Cypriot or Israeli gas. There are alternative suggestions either a pipeline that will go through Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, or through Cyprus itself or transporting it using modern methods like CNG.
06.37 Interviewer Since you referred to the solution of the Cyprus dispute, where do negotiations stand at this point?
06.45 Anastasiades After the successful issuing of a joint communique, we have entered a substantial dialogue. Negotiators between the two communities are holding their eighth meeting.
07.01 Anastasiades I should note that our initial positions significantly diverge. However I hope that through systematic dialogue and the analysis of what each side means based on the proposals submitted, we will be able to improve and narrow differences. Thus we will be able to pass to the third and final stage of a more substantial approach to the Cyprus problem.
07.39 Interviewer Is there any time frame?
07.41 Anastasiades It would not be right to say that the Cyprus question should be solved by any given date. The joint communique avoids a tight schedule. It is stipulated that a solution should be found at the soonest possible time.
07.58 Anastasiades “The soonest possible time” would have been back in 1974, in 1975, in 1976… After forty years, the ones who are most eager for a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus question are the Greek-Cypriots, who pay the burden and the cost of the Turkish invasion.
08.19 Interviewer Let’s talk about China’s role on Cyprus. What is China’s role, in its capacity as permanent member of the UN Security Council, in the efforts to solve the Cyprus question?
08.30 Anastasiades China may not be actively involved in the different processes to solve the Cyprus question, but it is a stable partner, based on UN principles and values, that has always been present in the role it has to fulfill, by protecting Cypriot interest –and not only the interests Greek-Cypriots – through its policy making at the UN Security Council. This is why we are very grateful, because through a policy of values and principles, it helps protect the Republic of Cyprus as an entity.
09.16 Anastasiades There are also other reasons for which I would like to express my gratitude to China. There is also a financial contribution. Through the incentives we have offered, through the policies we follow, China has become a financial partner. This is why I would like to express my warmest gratitude to the Chinese leadership and people.
09.39 Interviewer There are ongoing efforts to turn Cyprus into a business hub for Chinese investors. How can this goal be achieved?
09.48 Anastasiades We should bear in mind, first of all, that Cyprus is an EU member. Secondly, the consequent implementation of the EU financial system, our tax system that is very favourable towards business people who invest or want to establish their decision-making center in Cyprus.
10.25 Anastasiades We dispose of highly qualified professionals like auditors, legal counselors etc and a proven ability to provide services. I think we can attract Chinese business people, from both the public and private sector, to act in a European framework and expand their activities throughout the EU.
11.00 Anastasiades We try hard to create these prospects and conditions by offering a series of incentives, tax breaks and also the possibility of acquiring permanent residency rights and even the Cypriot citizenship.
11.20 Interviewer In 2012, more than 100 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad. In the following years, this number is expected to massively expand. How can Cyprus attract a portion of these tourists?
11.46 Anastasiades This is something I had talked about some years ago, when I was still leader of the opposition and was invited by the Chinese communist party. It seems that the only way to do this is to establish direct flights, in combination with two or three other destinations.
12.07 Anastasiades What I was told was that a considerable number of Chinese spend their honeymoon abroad, in places that do not offer what Cyprus has to offer.The establishment of a direct flight is what will make Cyprus an attractive destination, in combination with two or three other destinations in our region.
12.38 Anastasiades Bearing in mind Chinese people’s high standard of education and their particular interest in culture and archaeology, I think that countries like Cyprus, Greece, Italy or Jordan could offer them the chance to get to know civilizations that are equally ancient as the Chinese.
13.08 Interviewer Mr President, thank you very much.
13.10 Anastasiades Thank you very much to your channel and to all people that hear us.


Video of the Exclusive Interview of President Anastasiades on GBTIMES