Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim I Ebrahim leaves tonight on a Working Visit to Cyprus

Deputy Minister Ebrahim I. Ebrahim is scheduled to undertake an official working visit to Cyprus on 29 and 30 June 2011 at the invitation of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou.  The core objectives for this visit include the following:

  • To promote and strengthen bilateral relations with Cyprus and to identify possible areas of cooperation in support of South Africa’s five national priorities.

  • To strengthen mutual understanding and co-operation on issues of global concern, including those of governance (consult on UNSC reform) and climate change (consult on climate change and issues related to COP17).

  • To have consultations in respect of the Cyprus question. (The outcome would be an improved understanding of the Cyprus Question and further developing South Africa’s policy in this regard).

  • Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Political Consultations.

In addition to the Deputy Minister’s meeting with Ambassador Emiliou, a courtesy call will be paid on the Cypriot President, Mr Dimitris Christofias and the new President of the Cypriot Parliament, Mr Yiannakis Omirou.

Diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Republic of Cyprus were established on 10 December 1993. The South African Ambassador to Athens is also accredited as the non-resident High Commissioner to Cyprus – Ambassador Mr SR Makgetla will soon present his credentials to the President of Cyprus. A Cypriot Consulate-General was established in Johannesburg in March 1994, and it was elevated to the status of High Commission at the beginning of 1999. The first Cypriot High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr E Eliades, was accredited during April 1999. In September 2007, Mr. Argyris Antoniou took over as High Commissioner. 

South Africa has excellent and long-standing bilateral relations with Cyprus. It has maintained strong ties partly due to the large and influential Cypriot (and Greek) community in South Africa, numbering about 60,000. This community serves as a link between South Africa and Cyprus (and Greece) in both the political and economic fields. South Africans of Cypriot origin form an important and influential part of the Hellenic Community in South Africa and as such also play a role in the Hellenic/Italian/Portuguese Alliance (HIP Alliance), an independent, non-profit organisation constituted of progressive, like-minded South Africans of Hellenic, Portuguese and Italian origin.

Cyprus has given substantial support to South African candidates for positions in the UN system. The foreign policy of Cyprus is fundamentally similar to that of South Africa regarding Iraq, UN Reform, free trade, environmental issues, etc.

The deepening of relations between South Africa and Cyprus on a bilateral and multilateral level would be to the mutual advantage of both states.

Cyprus lifted trade sanctions against South Africa at the end of 1993. Normal trade relations between the two countries commenced immediately and the Cypriot business community took a very keen interest in South Africa as a business partner. Trade with Cyprus has increased steadily over the past five years and growing from a very low base. There has been a significant percentage increase in trade during the last five years.

Cyprus has offered Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for South African imports into Cyprus. However, Cyprus, due to its accession to the EU, is aligning gradually its customs tariffs to those of the EU. The gradual reduction of customs duties will have a positive impact on South African exports to Cyprus.

Trade statistics between the two countries are as follows:

Cyprus

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Imports from SA

41 475

104 109

50 654

93 198

65 260

79 054

59317

55373

Exports to SA

11 130

20 940

17 897

18 736

16 257

36 391

30254

10629

Total trade

52 605

125 049

68 551

111 934

81 517

115445

89571

66002

(ZAR ‘000)

The Deputy Minister, who leaves tonight, will be accompanied by Ambassador S Makgetla, South Africa’s Ambassador to Greece and non-accredited ambassador-designate to Cyprus; DIRCO’s Ambassador R Molekane, Deputy Director-General: Europe and other senior government officials.

For further information please contact Mr. Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
Private Bag x152
Pretoria
0001

26 June 2011


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