By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
At the heart of the government’s strategy for economic recovery is the pursuit of attracting foreign direct investment, said Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades speaking on Monday night to in United Arab Emirates’s state officials and businessmen, during a dinner in Abu Dhabi. The President begun today his official visit to UAE as he looks to open more investments opportunities for his EU country’s beleaguered economy.
Addressing those present, Anastasiades said that “a dynamic and large business delegation from Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates will join the Business Forum, taking place next Wednesday in Dubai, aiming to explore business opportunities and prospects for cooperation.”
“Many investment opportunities”
According to an official announcement, the President noted that “the transition period in the Cyprus economy offers many opportunities for growth and investment in many sectors such as energy, banking, shipping, tourism, stock, large development projects, education and health. ”
The Cyprus withstands difficulties caused by Euro group’s decisions last year with determination, hard work, endurance and perseverance which characterises the people of Cyprus and has achieved great strides, he said. He added that this is confirmed by the positive reviews of the troika and upgrades of the economy by rating agencies.
Return to growth until 2015
He noted that ‘Troika expects quick recovery and return to growth until 2015, while the International Monetary Fund stresses that the reform program of Cyprus is on the right track. The EU has praised Cyprus for how experienced the economic crisis and now refers to Cyprus as a model for economic recovery.”
With Cyprus having recently strengthened its relations with United States, the EU and, more crucially Israel, the head of state’s visit to both Abu Diabi and then later Dubai is seen by many analysts as a reminder by the Cypriot government that it has not turned its back to the Arab world. Cyprus also continues to have strong ties with both Russia, which is a major investor on the island, and China.
During his visit to both cities, Nicos Anastasiades will meet infuential political, royal and business figures. On Tuesday the President, who is accompanied by members of his Cabinet, will hold two separate meetings with the Director General of the Arab Monetary Fund Abdulrahman Al Hamidy and Executive Director of the state investment fund Mubadala Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak.
Later on the same day, the President will go to the Palace Mushrif (Presidential Palace) , where he will be officially welcomed by the Crown Prince, Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The President is accompanied by Finance Minister Haris Georgiades, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lakkotrypis, Secretary to the President Constantinos Petrides, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Alexandros Zenon and Director of the Diplomatic Office of the President Nikos Christodoulides.
Foreign investors keen on citizenship
Meantime, foreign investors showed great interest in 2013 in a government scheme offering citizenship and permanent residence on the island, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos stated on Monday, adding that cash flow reached half a billion euros.
According to an official announcement, Hasikos said the scheme was successful and the government would like to secure its continuation, while noting that prospect for 2014 seemed favorable.
The Minister noted however that some changes have been made, making the acquisition of the Cypriot passport more difficult, since “this is also a European” passport.
Applications are reviewed on a case by case basis, to see whether certain criteria are met, before proceeding with issuing a passport, the Minister concluded.
The scheme provides that foreign nationals can acquire Cypriot citizenship, when investing at least 5mln euros in government bonds, real estate or fixed term deposits, among other areas.