Vassilis Demetriades, Cyprus Shipping Deputy Minister said he will begin contacts to reassess the situation after a tender for sea passenger line, linking Cyprus and Greece, aided by state subsidies, failed to attract binding offers.
The maritime connection between Cyprus and Greece has been inactive since 2000. The Deputy Ministry sought to revive the connection with a €5 million pen annum of state subsidy approved by the EU’s DG Competition. However, the tender for proposals ended on Friday without attracting any binding offers. Under the tender terms, the connection was due to commence in the summer of 2021 amid the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will begin contacts immediately to chart the way ahead,” Demetriades told CNA, stressing that the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated uncertainty concerning the commercial aspect of the connection should be taken into account seriously.
Under the the EU rules concerning general economic interest services, the state subsidy was solely associated with the passenger aspect of the sea line.
Demetriades said he will consult on Monday with the Deputy Ministry’s technocrats to assess the situation and decide on the way forward. The meeting will determine whether the tender was negatively affected by the pandemic or by other reasons.
“If it is evident that the pandemic was the decisive factor that affected the tender, we would have no problem in relaunching the tender at a later stage,” he said, adding that the Deputy Ministry is determined to pursue the task in a manner consisted with EU rules.
On his part, Thomas Kazakos, General Director of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, commended the Deputy Ministry’s efforts to promote the sea connection but added that the commercial circumstances, combined with the negative impact of pandemic, were not conducive in attracting long-term commitments.