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Nicosia to boost business image with EU presidency

By George Georgakopoulos

NICOSIA -- Cyprus is gearing up to take over the rotating European Union presidency on July 1 for the first time in the island’s history since it acceded to the bloc in 2004. However, Ankara’s intransigence on the Cyprus issue means that there is little scope for progress in the reunification talks during this term, therefore the Republic of Cyprus intends to use its six-month stint in the European Union chair for economic purposes, too, government officials are telling Kathimerini.

Besides the obvious political benefits, as Cyprus will be the focus of attention across the EU and beyond for that period, with more pressure being applied on Turkey to recognize de facto the Republic of Cyprus, the Cypriots intend to focus on promoting their country across the bloc in a bid to also reap financial benefits.

Conscious of the relatively limited exposure that the rotating presidency of the Union entails for each country after the hosting of all EU summits in Brussels instead of the presiding country for security reasons, Nicosia is planning to make the most of the opportunity through various promotional and advertising means.

“The Cypriot presidency will help in the promotion of the country as a trade center, and we intend to project its image as a business center as well,” Costas Shekkeris, head of the Commerce Ministry’s Industrial Products Export Department, told Kathimerini. He added that special films will be shown to European Parliament deputies as well as EU member-state government delegates who will be traveling to Nicosia and Limassol for medium- and low-level council meetings and various other functions.

Given that the current image of Cyprus tends to be purely as a tourism destination, Cypriots are aiming to convince their fellow Europeans that there is much more to the island than just sea and sun.

“In Brussels they tend to be surprised by the progress that Cypriot companies have made,” said Costas Christofides, assistant director general of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB). “After all, Cyprus is a particularly attractive business center thanks to its low taxation -- just 10 percent for foreign corporations -- and has the smallest number of strike days despite our strong union movement,” he explained, noting that this will be communicated to the island’s EU peers.

Delegates will be treated to genuine Cypriot hospitality and come into contact with the island’s products, as the stated aim of the government is to help foreigners appreciate the local produce to the maximum level: “We intend to transform our usual products into amazing experiences,” Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said last week while inaugurating the 37th Cyprus International Fair, which ends on Sunday, less than five weeks before Nicosia takes the EU presidency, an opportunity too historic to be missed.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday May 24, 2012 (22:24)  
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