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The Republic of Cyprus (official name) is an island country situated in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, only 75 km south of Turkey, 100 km west of Syria and 360 km north of Egypt.

Considering its position, it can be regarded as a European and an Afro-Asian country. Geologically, it belongs to Anatolia with which Cyprus formed a whole in the distant past.

It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (9,251 km²), following Sicily and Sardinia. Its length from east to west amounts to 240 km, while its width from north to south is 100 km.

The name Cyprus is believed to originate from the Latin word “cuprum” meaning copper. In ancient times, Cyprus was known as one of the largest, if not the largest copper mine in the Mediterranean region. Another theory associates the name with the Greek term “kiparissi” which can be translated as cypress.

Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, and has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.

The capital city of Cyprus is Nikosia (Lefkosía). It is also the largest city in Cyprus, followed by Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos and Kyrenia.

According to the population census at the beginning of 2017, Cyprus counts 1,184,800 inhabitants.

H.E. Mr. Constantinos Eliades, Ambassador of Cyprus to Serbia

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

This is the second time I have served in Belgrade. Indeed, I began my diplomatic career as a young attaché back in 1990, as the number two in our Embassy here.

I was very glad to again serve 25 years later, as an ambassador this time, in Belgrade.

I like Belgrade, both living and working here, and I love Serbia and the Serbian people. Belgrade is a bustling, modern metropolis, future and progress oriented and Serbia is a beautiful country with a lot to offer its visitors and Serbs are very friendly and welcoming. As a Cypriot, I feel like home in Serbia.

2. How long have you held the position of Ambassador in Serbia, and what was the course of your career in diplomacy before you came to Serbia?

I arrived in Belgrade in December 2015 and my mandate here will be coming to its end in a couple of months.

As I said earlier, I started my diplomatic career serving in our Embassy here from 1990 to 1993. I was afterwards posted to our embassies in Paris and Moscow. After serving in various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nicosia for a while, I was posted as the High Commissioner in Kenya and then as the bilateral ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, in Brussels.

Belgrade is my third ambassadorial post and I am very happy that my diplomatic career will come full circle from and to Belgrade. This is rare in a diplomats’ life.

3. 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, and Yugoslavia before that, have always had problem free and very friendly bilateral relations. We do not have any open issues or differences and both, at the government as well as at the people’s level, relations and mutual understanding are excellent and matter of fact.

Economic cooperation / trade is not commensurate to our excellent diplomatic relations and there is ample room for expansion and enhancement. For this, both of our countries, but most importantly our business people, have to be more active and entrepreneurial.

4. What is the current situation regarding the pandemic in Cyprus?

All in all, the targeted measures that our government took as soon as the first case of Covid 19 was detected, greatly helped mitigate and control the spread of the virus, thus avoiding the tragic situation we have seen in various other countries.

Presently, there are approximately 1,850 active cases and 23 total deaths.

In recent days, unfortunately, we have been witnessing some spikes, locally, of new cases mainly because some people have not been respecting the prescribed preventive measures and protocols. But the situation is, overall, under control.

5. How has the pandemic affected the development of tourism?

As in many other countries, tourism was also severely impacted by the pandemic in Cyprus. In 2020, compared to 2019, we expect a decrease of appx. 80-85 % of tourist arrivals.

6. Today, Serbia is a candidate country for EU membership - negotiations started in January 2014. In your view, where is Serbia on its way to EU membership and what will be crucial for Serbia to reach membership status?

Cyprus is a sincere and true supporter of Serbia’s EU course and in this framework we are ready to share our own experience and knowhow regarding accession negotiations.

The EC Country Progress Report for Serbia was made public on October 6th, so the government is fully aware where its attention and focus should be and in which fields there are shortcomings and delays in carrying out the necessary changes and reforms.

I am sure that the new government will give its full attention on all the issues highlighted by the EC Report and will spare no effort in carrying out what needs to be done in order for Serbia to become, sooner rather than later, a full member of the EU. On this road, Cyprus stands ready to extend, within its means and capabilities, any help and assistance.

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

I don’t have the most recent figures, but Cypriot investments in Serbia are appx. 1 billion Euros, which for a small country like Cyprus, is not a negligible amount.

At present there are around a dozen Cypriot companies active in Serbia. As far as I know, the biggest Cypriot company is Mitsides Point A.D., a pasta producing factory in Sremska Mitrovica.

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

This cooperation is excellent and as an embassy, we try to create conditions for business people from our two countries to interact and cooperate to mutual benefit. So, at the end of the day, it is up to our respective business communities to use the opportunities and avenues we as governments create for them.

9. What is the nature of the 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?

I unfortunately do not have the latest figures. The figures I have are for 2017 when our overall trade volume was appx. 20 million Euros, with the balance strongly in favor of Serbia. The IT industry in Serbia is very strong and dynamic, as well as agriculture.

In 2017 our main imports from Serbia were paper and paperboard, paper pulp etc (25%), beverages, spirits and vinegar (45%), cereals (7%), flour, starch, milk etc (8%).Our main exports were pharmaceutical products (56%), machinery, boilers, mechanical appliances, engines (24%), meat and edible meat (6%), as well as products of animal origin (6%).

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

Our two countries have signed a bilateral Programme for Cooperation in the fields of education, culture, sports and the youth which runs until the end of 2022 (and will most probably be renewed beyond that date in due course).

In the framework of this Programme, there is cooperation and exchanges at various levels and fields.

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

Well, as you know, Cyprus is a well-known tourist destination that has more to offer than what meets the eye. Cyprus might be a small island but it has an 11,000 year long history and a rich culture.

Apart from its lovely, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters (almost all the beaches in Cyprus have been awarded the EU blue flag for several years in a row), Cyprus has a lot of museums, art galleries, byzantine churches (ten of them are part of UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites), and ancient monuments (Neolithic, Greek, venetian, roman).

The Troodos mountain range is dotted with lots of small, picturesque villages.

There are not a lot of countries that you can, on the same day go skiing up in the mountains and then a couple of hours later take a dip into the sea. Our hotel infrastructure is first class and one can find accommodation to suit any budget. Cypriot cuisine and wines are also a ‘must taste’ for our visitors.

Cyprus is, according to a recent survey by a reputable organization, amongst the three safest countries in the world. In the world we live in today, that is very important when deciding one’s holiday destination.

To conclude, I would say that the biggest treasure of our beautiful island is our people: friendly, welcoming and hospitable and they really love Serbs!