Port Authority: A total of 402 ships sailed from Turkey to Cyprus in 2020-2023

A total of 402 ships that sailed from Turkish ports, subsequently sailed to Cyprus between 2020 and 2023 (122 in 2020, 97 in 2021, 140 in 2022 and 43 in 2023) according to data published on Wednesday by the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) and which are included in a detailed note concerning the statistics on ships registered in Turkey but also ships that have arrived in Cyprus from Turkish ports.

According to the note, which was prepared on the basis of data collected through the port community system (PCS) and the vessel traffic services (VTS) operated by the CPA, of a total of 402 ships, 370 sailed to Cyprus to unload cargo, 19 to drop off passengers and cargo, one to drop off passengers while 12 arrived without cargo or passengers.

The total declared cargo amounted to 4.04 million tons.

Besides, from January 1, 2018 to-date, six ships registered in Turkey – one tanker and five bulk carriers – sailed into Cypriot ports/anchorages (one in Limassol, four in Larnaca and one in Zygi).

Also, seven cruise ships in 2022 and three in 2023 so far, which fly a flag other than the Cypriot one, sailed from ports of the Republic of Cyprus to ports in Turkey.

The note shows that in recent years there has been a decrease in ships departing from Turkish ports and sailing to open Cypriot ports, but also that the number of ships registered in Turkey sailing to the open ports of the Republic of Cyprus is particularly small.

The CPA notes that the Republic of Cyprus does not impose an embargo on Turkish flagged ships or ships sailing from Turkish ports, but that there is a legal provision regarding violations of ships sailing from closed ports of the Republic of Cyprus.

It is recalled that Turkey, since 1987, has imposed an embargo on ships flying the Republic of Cyprus flag and on ships approaching a Cypriot port as their last port of call before arriving in Turkey. In 1997 the embargo was extended to ships managed by companies based in Cyprus and to Cypriot interest-owned ships, it is added.

It is emphasised that these “arbitrary and discriminatory” restrictions imposed by Turkey directly affect the further development of Cypriot shipping, Cypriot ports and the wider shipping and port industry in a strategically important region, namely the eastern Mediterranean, with proximity to the Suez Canal, one of the most important maritime trade corridors connecting the markets of the Far East with those of Europe. It is also noted that, Turkey continues to violate the Ankara Protocol, which it has signed and which provides for the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the immediate opening of its ports and airspace to Cypriot ships and aircraft.

It also says that the Turkish embargo does not apply to cruise ships, which can sail to Turkish ports without interruption and regardless of their registration or management or whether they sail from Cypriot ports. According to the CPA this paradox lies in the fact that, the ports included in the itineraries of cruise ships operate complementary and not competitively, and in the event of restrictive measures imposed by Turkey on this sector, this would mean a big loss in revenue from maritime tourism.

The note also says that the Republic of Cyprus, respecting international regulations, Maritime Law and the basic principles of free trade, has not imposed any embargo on Turkish flagged ships, except for those ships (flying the Turkish or other flag) that sail from ports in the Turkish-occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus.

It is also noted that the Republic of Cyprus is intensifying its efforts through the exercise of its rights deriving from the relevant EU acquis, to lift the aforementioned violations of international and EU law, to protect its own national interests and the interests of the bloc in general.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Several official EU documents outline Turkey’s legal obligation to lift its embargo on Cypriot and EU shipping but so far Ankara has refused to meet its EU commitments.