By Nicosia Correspondent
Higher interest from Romanian companies to invest in Cyprus, in particular areas such as energy, IT and shipping, is expected, as soon as the island’s economy begins to recover, according to the Romanian Ambassador in Cyprus, Ion Pascu. In an interview to IBNA, the ambassador underlined that Cyprus and Romanian share excellent bilateral relations enhanced by a high level political, economic and sectoral dialogue.
Ion Pascu said that, despite the economic crisis, the volume of Cypriot capital invested in Romania increased over the last years, reaching more than 2 billion euro, placing Cyprus in top five foreign investors.
Regarding investments from Romania to Cyprus, “according to Central Bank of Cyprus, the Romanian portfolio investment in Cyprus reached 145.2 million euro at the end of 2012”, said Pascu, adding: “Unfortunately, the branch of the Romanian ‘Transilvania Bank’ closed its offices in Nicosia and Limasol following the banking crises in Cyprus.
Asked about his country’s position towards the Cyprus issue, Ion Pascu, who was previously ambassador of Romania in Ankara, underlined that Romania follows the developments on the Cyprus problem with great interest and “gives full support to the efforts aimed at a fair and lasting agreement to achieve the reunification of the whole territory of Cyprus, based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state, according to the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions”.
Speaking about the Romanian Community living in the island, he said that in 2011, more than 24000 Romanians were registered, but over the last year many have left due to the loss of their jobs.
“Hit by the hardest”
How many Romanian people live in Cyprus and how did the economic crisis affect them?
The exact number of Romanian citizens residing today in Cyprus is not known but we know that the last census, in 2011, registered 24000. Since not all Romanians could have been counted (those not taken into evidence at the Registration Office or not meeting the census criteria) we could estimate that their number was much bigger. Yet during the last year many left Cyprus since they lost their jobs. Their main areas of employment work have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis.
The Romanians in Cyprus belong to various social categories and have different levels of education. Most of them work in construction, trade, tourism, services, agriculture. But there are also doctors, professors, lawyers, IT specialists, engineers and other well appreciated experts. Some of them came to Cyprus before 1990, married to Cypriots who studied in Romania. After 1990, the work opportunities offered by the prosperous Cypriot economy were the main attraction for Romanians.
They cannot keep their jobs
What are the main problems of the Romanian Community here?
As a consequence of the deep economic crisis in the Republic of Cyprus, the main problem many members of the Romanian community are facing today is to keep or find a new job. Those who have been working without legal documents find themselves without any social benefits, too. Poor knowledge of the Cypriot legislation and the Greek language, as well as the bureaucracy in the Republic of Cyprus, represent further difficulties in overcoming such situations.
Therefore, those who want to come to Cyprus are advised to study the labour market, relevant legislation and living conditions in the Republic of Cyprus. Those who are in Cyprus may receive assistance from the Embassy, which uses various channels of communication to disseminate such information (meetings with the Romanian communities, advices in the Romanian newspaper, website or radio program in Romanian language, booklets).
As a special remark, good cooperation is developing between our governments in areas relevant to this new reality, such as labour, justice and home affairs. The Embassy appreciates the Cypriot authorities’ support, granted to the Romanian community. The same could be mentioned about the assistance extended to the formal Romanian Alliance in its activities, which are aimed at promoting the cultural heritage and preserving ethnic, linguistic and spiritual identity.
Some feeling isolated
In your opinion, how are they treated by the rest of the society? Do they feel accepted, or do they feel isolated?
The Romanian citizens who could find a job according to their education and qualification and, in particular, those settled in Cyprus for a longer time are already integrated in the Cypriot society. They contributed to the development of Cyprus and earned the respect of the local majority. Those who had to accept jobs below their expectations, on a short term basis or season related contract may feel insecure or even isolated.
Common religion, values and visions
What are the common characteristics between Romanian and Cypriot people?
They are bound by common religion, similar historical challenges and, nowadays, by common values and visions of the future as EU members. I would like to remind you that the historical relations between Romania and Cyprus date back to the 16th century. These relations encompass a long period of fruitful cultural and religious exchanges, which led to the complex bonds that exist today.
Full support on Cyprus issue
What is your country’s position towards the Cyprus issue and more specifically on the restart of peace talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides for the unification of the divided island?
Romania follows with great interest the developments on the Cyprus issue and gives full support to the efforts aimed at a fair and lasting agreement to achieve the reunification of the whole territory of Cyprus, based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state, according to the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The settlement of the Cyprus issue is of utmost importance for regional stability. Romania encourages the two Cypriot communities in their direct dialogue that can lead to a comprehensive solution.
Top five foreign investors
What about the Romanian-Cypriot relations? Is there any room for enhancing bilateral ties in business and tourism.
Romania and Cyprus share excellent bilateral relations, enhanced by a high level political, economic and sectoral dialogue. The economic cooperation has constantly strengthened in the last years, when, despite the crisis, the volume of Cypriot capital invested in Romania increased, reaching more than 2 billion euro, which places Cyprus in the top five foreign investors. We are looking forward to building on the present achievements, to fostering and expanding our relations in all fields. Obviously, tourism represents an area where both countries offer excellent opportunities.
Interest in energy, IT and shipping
Should we expect more investments from Romania as the economy recovers?
The Romanian companies have a considerable presence in Cyprus, either through direct investments or through investments in debt securities. According to Central Bank of Cyprus, the Romanian portfolio investment in Cyprus reached 145.2 million euro at the end of 2012. Unfortunately, the branch of the Romanian “Transilvania Bank” closed its offices in Nicosia and Limasol following the banking crises in Cyprus. I am confident that, as soon as the economy of Cyprus recovers, the interest of Romanian companies will increase, in particular in areas such as energy, IT and shipping.