French – Cyprus relations

Political relations

Traditionally, France and the Republic of Cyprus have enjoyed good bilateral relations, due in particular to our balanced position on the Cyprus issue. Since Cyprus joined the European Union, we have been careful to strengthen our dialogue on all of the major European issues, on which our two countries share many similar views.

On the occasion of the official visit made by President Papadopoulos 3-5 November 2005, at the invitation of the French President, it was decided that a structured dialogue was to be established between France and the Republic of Cyprus, in order to reinforce the dialogue and bilateral cooperation on all topics of common interest.

On behalf of France, Ms. Lenoir, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, went to Nicosia in July 2003. Mr. Loos, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, spent time in Nicosia in September 2004 and was again received on 27 January 2006 by President Papadopoulos. Ms. Haigneré, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, visited Cyprus in January 2005. Ms. Colonna went there on 21 July 2006.

On behalf of Cyprus, in the context of the official visit of President Papadopoulos, Mr. Iacovou, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had been received by Mr. Barnier in December 2004, met with Mr. Douste-Blazy. In addition, Mr. Lillikas, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, who has travelled to France several times over the past two years to meet with the French government, was received by Ms. Colonna. A Francophile who speaks perfect French, Mr. Lillikas has since been named Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the cabinet reshuffle on 8 June.

Economic relations
In terms of overall volume, France and Cyprus have modest economic ties, but which are strongly favourable to France, surplus-wise. In 2005, Cyprus was our 82nd customer, but was 30th in terms of surplus. From 2001 to 2005, France’s total surplus accumulated for Cyprus reached €1.4 billion. According to Cypriot statistics, in 2005 we were Cyprus’ eighth-leading supplier, with 3.6% of the market, and its leading customer, with 16.9% of the market (a completely new situation, which is explained for the most part by re-exports).

In 2005, French exports to Cyprus stood at 423.5 million euros, down 19.8% compared with 2004 figures. Following 2002’s record high, France’s trade surplus dropped for the third year in a row in 2005. This decline is particularly affected by the “electrical and electronic equipment” (-48.9% at €25.7 million) and “automotive products” (-47.4% at €52.3 million) items. The “boats, aircraft, trains, motorcycles” item is posting very strong growth (+729% at €41.5 million).

In light of the weak development of Cyprus’ productive capacities, our import volume remains limited, standing at €21.1 million in 2005.

In 2005, two major operations were instituted:
   Bouygues, Egis and the Nice-Côte d’Azur Chamber of Commerce and Industry hold a 42% stake in the consortium that won the call for tenders for the renovation and management of the two international airports in Cyprus (the first stone for the Larnaca terminal was laid on 23 June 2006).

 The Franco-Greek group, Carrefour-Marinopoulos, has acquired a local retail operator for 37 million euros.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation
France and Cyprus are linked by a 1969 cultural agreement, establishing a joint commission (which no longer meets: the last meeting dates back to July 1994). Cyprus’ candidacy to the International Organization of the Francophonie as an associate member, which will be reviewed during the Summit in Bucharest to be held in September 2006, conveys the considerable strengthening of our bilateral relations, in the field of culture, in particular. Nevertheless, resources for our cultural activities are modest (228,000 euros in 2005, more than half of which covers salaries). The network is composed of a cultural centre in Nicosia, two Alliances Françaises (in Limassol and Paphos), an educational institution, which will develop a new Franco-Cypriot curriculum through the baccalaureate, and a cultural association in the northern part of the island. The equivalence scale for French and Cypriot diplomas was reviewed in its entirety in 2005, which now makes it possible to further one’s studies easily in France.

Our priority actions are:

   Promoting the instruction of French (a third of funds), in particular to Cypriot civil servants. Currently, 50,000 students are learning French in the Cypriot school system, as a second modern language. At the University of Cyprus, 40 students studied French 2002; 750 students were studying French in 2005. The number of people registered for the DELF (French proficiency test) increased from 1300 in 2002 to 2300 in 2006. Lastly, specialized courses are more and more in demand.
   Strengthening and diversifying scientific and university cooperations (30% of funds). In June 2004, “Zénon”, an integrated action programme, was created, designed to finance the mobility of young researchers. In addition, Cyprus has made efforts to increase the number of university scholarships. In 2003, 187 Cypriot students went to France, a 140% increase over 1998. In 2005, Cypriot funding was used to set up a programme offering 36 undergraduate scholarships for France, through an agreement with the CNOUS. Archaeological cooperation is longstanding (five missions) and operates satisfactorily.
   Developing technical cooperation, in particular in the field of government. This activity has increased in recent years, in the framework of harmonization with the Community acquis. In terms of reunification prospects, our action is also increasing in the northern part of the island, primarily in the area of culture.
Archaeology
Within the International Co-operation and Development Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sub-department of archaeology and social science supports the research of 155 archaeological missions. In Cyprus :

  “Amathous” : Study of a primitive island people and one of the greatest Cypriot kingdoms.
 
  “Khirokitia” : Preceramic Neolithic developments on Cyprus.

  “Shillourokambos” : The first farmers.
Other types of cooperation

A bilateral cooperation agreement in the area of internal security was signed on 4 March 2005, and is currently the subject of an interministerial approval process before it is ratified. In practical terms, cooperation has increased in the area of law and domestic matters, since the creation in January 2000 of a position for an internal security attaché. An interministerial mission carried out by the Ambassador responsible for the fight against organized crime (December 2004) took stock of the actions conducted by the Republic of Cyprus and joint perspectives. For 2005, the cooperation programme covered:
The fight against cyber-crime (specifically, training investigators specializing in computer-related crime),
The fight against drug trafficking and the money laundering related thereto (training investigators, operational cooperation for offshore questioning and monitored deliveries),
The prospects of creating a department equivalent to the SCTIP. In the judicial field, our relations are in line with international conventions on transfer or extradition or, for requests for mutual assistance, come under the jurisdiction of the reciprocity rule.

Source: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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