Tripoli, 28 April:
Libya Herald had interviewed three Cypriot Ministers who are leading a Cypriot delegation which arrived in Tripoli on Saturday . . .[restrict]for a two-day visit.
Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Cypriot Foreign Minister:
“I came to Libya in January and I had very good meetings with a number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Health Minister, and I detected that there is a very large scope for cooperation to strengthen relations between Cyprus and Libya.
“When I got back to Cyprus, I contacted my fellow ministers, especially the two ministers present here today, because these were the fields where I detected that there were possible areas of cooperation. Therefore we organised this visit with the intention of meeting with the right people.
“We have brought with us a large delegation from the Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and a group of businessmen from about 20 companies, including from the health and construction sector. So in that sense we mean to do business during this visit.
‘There are a number of old agreements with Libya that are still pending which we hope to activate after the Libyan elections. These include an agreement on cooperation between the antiquities departments and the departments responsible for museums.
“This is very important since there is a large scope for possible cooperation between the two departments especially for archeologists. We have done this with various other universities. We have done this with universities in Lebanon and Egypt. Our Mediterranean area is very rich in history and culture, and therefore the cooperation between the specialists in this area is very important, and so this is an area that we will be promoting.
“The Cypriot Ministry of Foreign affairs is taking a group of 28 children Libyan — boys and girls between the age of 12 and 15 years old to be accompanied by four Libyan teachers — departing on 30 April for Cyprus. These are from families that have been affected by the war. We had done a similar programme with Japanese tsunami children before. We are organizing a very rich programme for them. They will stay for ten days.”
Neoklis Sylikiotis, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Tourism and Energy:
“We met today with the Foreign Minister and I met with the Minister of Industry Dr Fteissi to discuss areas of possible cooperation. We discussed the fact that we have a very good research and development sector in the pharmaceutical sector and I explained that in Cyprus this is the biggest exporter.
“We discussed how we can encourage the businessmen of both sides to increase their activities and we introduced the head of the Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
“The possibility of exchanging delegations in industry was also discussed. Cyprus will be assuming the EU presidency this year and so one of our priorities during the EU presidency is how to develop the relationship with our southern Mediterranean neighbours, including North African states.
“In commerce and industry we would like to start negotiating a free trade agreement, because we have started negotiating with Tunisia and Morocco and we would like to start negotiations with Libya and Egypt.”
Tourism and Antiquities
“We also met the General Director of Tourism and Antiquities and we talked about two proposals in the tourism sector. We talked about the possibility of cooperation and the exchange of experience. Cyprus has experience in tourism and the first proposal in the tourism area is for Libyans to have training in our tourism schools to see how we organize tourism in Cyprus.
“The second proposal is to link the Libyan antiquities sector with their counter parts in Cyprus which is very important for Libya with its antiquities sites. Libya has civilizations thousands of years old and to we can exchange ideas and our experience as to how to possibly develop this sector further.
“We also started to develop the marinas sector in Cyprus last year to bring quality tourism to Cyprus. This is a great possibility for Libya with its 2000 km of Mediterranean beaches to develop.”
Energy, Oil and Gas
“Tomorrow I hope to meet with Libya’s Energy, Oil and Gas Ministers and the Prime Minister. We have some possible gas resources that we would like to develop and we would like to discuss Libya’s experience in this area. We have electricity generators working on gas, and maybe we could discuss the possibility of Libya supplying Cyprus’s gas needs. We don’t have our own gas supplies until now and so it is very expensive for us supplying them with gas at the moment.
“Another area we would like to discuss is renewable energy. I discussed this issue with Industrial Minister Fteissi. We have companies in this sector and we want to develop cooperation in the solar energy field. We have companies that export to Germany in the solar energy sector. We are a relatively poor country and we have the sun so we must use the sun, which I think it is important for Libya too to develop its solar energy sector.
“We would like the Chambers of Commerce to also sign an Memorandum of Understanding so as to increase cooperation between the two sides.”
Stavros Malas, Minister of Health
“We are here essentially to address four issues. The first one is that we would like to finalise the plans for setting up a programme of training of Libyan doctors and nurses for a short period of time in the public hospitals in Cyprus. We have agreed to cover all the costs and expenses of this. We just need the plan to be initiated.
“We appreciate that some expertise in some areas is lacking so we are offering that possibility for Libyan doctors. If the first batch of about 20 is successful we hope to move on to the second phase.
“This training will be in psychotherapy, in radiology and particularly in medical diagnostics such as ultrasound and fast procedures that people need here and these expertise are available in Cyprus.
“In addition to that we want to explore ways of offering our medical services not just to Libyan patients that were injured during the war, although that is also a possibility, but we are here to offer specialist services to adults and children in orthopedics, eye specialists, spine surgery and MRI diagnostics.”
Cyprus wants to attract Libyan medical tourism
“We want to organize a tight well regulated service in Cyprus for Libyan people. We have enormous capacity in the private sector under the coordination of the government. The private sector has agreed to offer these services not on comparative bases — but all offering the same services at the same prices.”
Improve Libya’s health infrastructure
“Our second objective ways where we can help you mobilize your own infrastructure here. We understand that you have hospitals that are understaffed and not properly run so we want to see how we can explore that possibility of sending people over here to help you run those hospitals.”
Help Libya to produce and export medicine
“Our third and final object how to initiate the functioning of your drug factories that you have here that I understand were built to for local use as well as for export to the African market. We have extremely high quality expertise in this area. Cyprus exports as many drugs as it imports. So we have that expertise and we want to help you initiate your own infrastructure to produce these drugs and promote your own exports.
“At the same time you have your own immediate needs of drugs. We are a drug-producing country so here we are to see how we can expand the trade between the two countries in certain formulations that you have immediate need for.
“Your own country is heavily burdened with bad health issues. Diabetes for instance, 30 percent or more of Libyans suffer from it. Enormous primary and secondary complications for your own health care. So it is very important that you receive treatment at an early stage both from medical point of view and for public health prevention.
“It is an issue that I think you need a lot of support in. So Cyprus is here quite close to your own country and I am sure we can provide a very high quality fully transparent service for your own people.”
Trade between Libya and Cyprus is estimated for 2010 at about only €3-4 million. This was attributed to
the lack of tourism between the two nations and the lack of direct flights. There are talks about the possibility of initiating a flight to Larnaka via Athens.