homepage_name! > Editions > Number 114 > Ambassador - Cyprus

Constantinos Eliades, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Serbia


Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an islandcountry in the Mediterranean, located 113km south of Turkey and about 120km west of the Syrian coast. In the geopolitical context, it belongs to Southwest Asia. The capital city is Nicosia.

Cyprus is thethird largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, with more than 2.4 million tourists visiting each year.

Having a typical Mediterranean climate, Cyprus is considered to be the warmest island in the Mediterranean. About 340 days of sunshine per year also make this island the sunniest country in this part of the world (especially in Europe).

Cyprus has the following population structure: 77% Greeks, 18% Turks and 5% others(Latins[BK1], Armenians, Maronites).

The religious structure is almost identical to thepopulation. In other words, Greeks are Orthodox Christians, Turks are Sunni Muslims. The rest are Armenian Christians, Maronite Christians, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and other Christians.

The official languages of the Republic are greek and turkish and English is widely spoken.

There are several theories about how this island got its name. One claim is that it originated from the Greek word for the cypress tree (Greek: Κυπαρίσσι). Another theory is that the name originated from the Greek word for the henna tree, (Greek: Κύπρος). According to another claim, Cyprus was named after the Latin phrase “aes Cyprium” (metal of Cyprus), meaning copper, which was later transformed into Cuprum. This origin is the most accepted one as Cyprus was very well known in antiquity for its copper.

Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, and on May 1,2004, it became a member of the European Union.

We had the honor to talk to His Excellency Mr. Constantinos Eliades, Ambassador of the Republic ofCyprus to Serbia.

Your Excellency, how do you feel about being in Belgrade? Can you tell us about your impressions of Serbia?

As you probably know, this is not my first posting in Belgrade. I was previously here, as the number two in our embassy, from 1990 to 1993, a very tragic period for Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. So, coming back to Belgrade, this time as Ambassador, is great! Belgrade is a great city to live in, full of life and a lot to offer in terms of culture, events, etc. I love Serbia and I really feel at home here since Cyprus and Serbia have a lot in common; their history and religion, for example. So as a Cypriot in Serbia, I do not feel like a foreigner.

How long have you held the position of ambassador in Serbia, and what has been the course of your career in diplomacy before you came to Serbia?

It will soon be three years since I assumed my duties as Ambassador in Serbia. Regarding my diplomatic career, as I have already said, my first posting abroad was in Belgrade from 1990-93. Then, I served in our Embassy in Paris, then as Deputy Head of Mission in our Embassy in Moscow. My first Ambassadorial post was in Nairobi, Kenya, then Ambassador to Belgium in Brussels and since 2015 here in Belgrade.

When I was serving in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I held various positions in the Cyprus Question Directorate, the Multilateral and the Bilateral Directorates.

What is the current diplomatic and economic cooperation of our two countries like, and what was it like in the past? What should be changed in order to improve that cooperation?

Cyprus and Serbia, as well as the former Yugoslavia, have always had excellent, very friendly, and problem free bilateral relations. Last May, the President of the Republic, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, paid an official visit to Serbia and in July the Speaker of the House of Representatives visited Belgrade. At the end of this month, the High-Level Intergovernmental meeting between our two countries will take place in Nicosia. President Vucic, accompanied by various ministers, will head the Serbian delegation.

On the economic/trade sphere, things are not at their full potential and there is ample room for further and wider cooperation in various fields.

When it comes to investments, how do investors from Cyprus regard the Serbian market? How many companies from Cyprus are operating in Serbia at the moment and which are the most important companies investing in us?

At present, there are about a dozen or so Cypriot companies operating here. Cypriot business people, of course, do not ignore Serbia but Cyprus, being a small country and with the vast majority of companies being SMEs, do not have the ability to expand or invest abroad in big numbers. That notwithstanding, the two biggest Cypriot investments are located in Vojvodina, a pasta-making plant and a meat by-products processing plant. There are also Cypriot companies dealing in real estate, general trade, beverages, and other fields.

What is the nature of foreign trade cooperation between our countries and which industries in Serbia have the most potential? What does Serbia export to Cyprus, and what does it import from Cyprus?

As I have already said, Cyprus and Serbia have problem free bilateral relations and this is also valid for our trade relations. Unfortunately, trade relations between our two countries are not commensurate to our excellent political relations but we hope that the forthcoming high-level meeting in Nicosia will serve as a booster for closer trade cooperation. Serbia has great potential in a lot of fields and I will only mention but a few: IT, agriculture, and tourism. The bulk of Serbian exports to Cyprus is beverages and spirits, paper, paper pulp, etc., and then cereals, flour, rubber a. o. Cyprus exports to Serbia mainly include pharmaceuticals (57% of the total), meat, raw hides, skins, and leather.

How would you describe your cooperation with the Serbian Government and business associations for the purpose of entrepreneurship development?

The doors of the Serbian Government are always open and welcome the Ambassador of Cyprus. Our cooperation is excellent, and I have no complaints whatsoever. For our trade cooperation to expand and further deepen, business people, in both countries, have to be more active and more ″aggressive″.

The president of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, as well as the president of the Cypriot parliament Demetris Syllouris have visited Serbia this year. In what way did these two visits contribute to further bilateral relations of our countries?

These visits were the occasion for Cyprus and Serbia to re-confirm their long-standing friendship, mutual understanding, and support on issues of national interest like KiM and the illegal Turkish occupation of part of Cyprus as well as the wish for further expanding and deepening our bilateral relations. It was during President Anastasiades' visit that the November high-level meeting in Nicosia was agreed.

During Mr. Syllouris's visit, a memorandum of understanding as to the cooperation between our two parliaments was signed with his Serbian counterpart Mrs. M Gojkovic.

Today, Serbia is a candidate country – negotiations started in January, 2014. In your opinion, how far along is Serbia on the path towards the EU, and what will be crucial for Serbia to become a member state?

Serbia has already opened 14 negotiating chapters so far and I hope that in December it will open at least 3, if not more, new ones.

The conditions/criteria for a country to become an EU member are the same for every candidate country. Serbia has already implemented a lot of reforms which have yielded tangible results, especially in the economic field, but it still has a lot to do, especially on chapters 23 and 24, in order to fulfill all the requirements for accession. This notwithstanding, Serbia is on the right path for accession and as the process of accession is an own merit-based one, it is, at the end of the day, up to the Serbian government and people to prepare the country for it. Cyprus fully supports Serbia's EU course and is ready to afford, within its means and capabilities, every relevant assistance and know-how.

I also hope that the issue of KiM will sooner, rather than later, be resolved in a mutually agreed and acceptable way so that Serbia's path to the EU becomes wide open and obstacle free. I avail myself of this opportunity to repeat Cyprus’s already well-known position on KiM: For as long as UN SC 1244 remains in force, Kosovo is an illegall, secessionist entity which we do not recognize as so called ″independent″.

Can you tell us about the relationship between Serbia and Cyprus in the fields of science, culture and education?

Cyprus and Serbia signed, in 2006, a relevant Memorandum of Understanding. This MoU includes a bilateral Educational Cooperation Programme which has been automatically renewed over the last few years. We expect that during the High-Level meeting in Nicosia, this MoU will be refreshed and updated, to our mutual benefit.

How would you present your country as a tourist attraction? Which characteristics and sights would you highlight?

Cyprus is one of the best tourist destinations. It not only has centuries-old history and culture, but also an excellent tourist infrastructure, good weather (more than 300 days of sunshine a year), a rich tourist offering, friendly people, pristine waters and sandy beaches and, last but not least, excellent cuisine. One other very important fact is that Cyprus, in a recent worldwide study/poll by a reputable competent organization, was declared as one of the five safest countries in the world. There is something for every taste in Cyprus: historical/cultural monuments, picturesque little mountain villages as well as cosmopolitan cities and a bustling night-life. Plus, Larnaca is just a couple of hours flight from Belgrade.

As part of the tourism promotion strategy, you have developed special forms of tourism, such as congress tourism and incentive travel. Tell us something more about that.

As I have already said, Cyprus is a great tourist destination, especially for summer holidays. Wanting to avoid this ″seasonality″ and in order to promote Cyprus as an all-year-round country to visit, the Cypriot government implemented plans and promotion strategies for other forms of tourism such as incentive travel (i.e. sports, health, etc.) as well as congress tourism, which are starting to bear fruit and are quite successful. For example, during the winter season, a lot of football teams from various countries, including Serbia, come to Cyprus to train and prepare because of our mild winter.

I should also add that Cyprus is a very popular destination for wedding tourism.

What are the things you particularly like in Serbia? How do you spend your free time?

I really love Serbia and the Serbian people. As I have said, I feel at home here. In my free time I play tennis, and build model boats. I also like, weather permitting, to walk along the Sava or Danube banks and travel to various towns and areas and discover the beauty and cultural and religious treasures of this beautiful country!

[BK1]Mislim da je ovo greška; u engleskom se Latins odnosi na katolike a to nije naziv za narod već za veroispovest.