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President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus visited India recently in order to give relation between India and Cyprus a boost.
India-Cyprus relations have had a historical basis with both countries having a common approach on issues like anti-imperialism, non-alignment and promotion of sovereignty of states without external interference. Relations have been traditionally close and friendly between the two countries.
Cyprus got its independence in 1960. Gandhiji is revered in Cyprus which fought its independence from British just like India did.
Even if it is a small island country with small population, it has a widespread and regular relationship with India.
Over the years, India-Cyprus political relations have been maintained and strengthened through a series of high level visits. All major Indian leaders have visited Cyprus.
It is to underline that Cyprus is not everyday consciousness but relationship with Cyprus has been important. Cyprus supports India’s permanent membership with veto in UNSC.
It is 8th largest FDI investor in India with 9 billion dollar investments already done. The per capita income of Cyprus is ten times to India. So in areas of high technology, advanced research, training, finance, agriculture, solar energy- India and Cyprus can cooperatively gain technology and investments from each other.
Cyprus has invited India to invest there. In an innovative measure, a start up visa programme is introduced which which invites startups to invest in Cyprus. Reciprocally, India has extended electronic visas to Cyprus citizens.
The trade between two nations is 110 million dollars so there is lot of trade potential. New MoUs are being signed to increase trade on both sides.
Cyprus is a major player on seas with 11th largest merchant ship. It has 3rd largest shipping management centre located in EU. Thus there is huge potential of trade between both nations. India can also derive advantage from Cyprus`s ship-owning and ship-management services. Cyprus’s investment in India’s `Sagarmala’ project of developing a string of ports, and setting up start-ups in the related ancillary sector, could be gainfully explored.
In many initiatives like digital India, smart India, make in India, clean India- there are going to be many partnerships with Cyprus companies. So Cyprus plays an important role in reinsuring some of these initiatives are accelerated in that sense.
Other than investment, India has removed Cyprus from where taxation implies in either investment or seeking investment thus avoiding double taxation.
Cyprus is in support of India European FTA. Cyprus already enjoys a degree of support within the EU since it joined that grouping a decade ago. So it wants to play a catalyst role in strengthening and building relationship between India and Cyprus and EU.
The location of Cyprus in Mediterranean is good for India. It is close to southern Europe and is an important part of European Union. It is also close to West Asia which can be helpful for India in future. Thus, Cyprus can be looked at as India’s gateway to Europe.
Other than immediate economic interests, the focus of Cyprus President to India is to support and highlight possibility of India playing a major role in Afghanistan and tackling issues of terrorism. Whether it is Afghanistan or supporting India’s proposal in creating international convention on terrorism, it is highlighted that Cyprus sees India has having an important role in global level in building up a convention of that nature.
India has had its presence in Cyprus through the UN Peacekeeping force. At present India has a small civilian police contingent in the UNPOL. Also, there live around 3000 Indians in Cyprus.
On Unification of Cyprus
India has been supporting republic of Cyprus from beginning and reverse is also true with Cyprus supporting India on issues of Kashmir at UN. So it is bilateral positive relationship.
The Cypriot President dropped little hints that it wants Indian PM to convey to Turkish President on unification of Cyprus by soliciting New Delhi`s indulgence and inviting India`s intercession on the withdrawal of Turkish military forces from northern Cyprus. However India should continue to consistently adhere to its time-tested and principled stand that re-unification should be pursued without external interference and involvement of coercive methods.
An action plan of 2017-18 has been prepared which is primarily aimed at accelerating and ensuring the MoUs being signed that can be implemented at great pace. Cyprus expects help from India in agriculture, start ups, education, health. Even tourism is emphasized on both sides. The strong political relationships now need to be converted into strong economic relationship too. Both sides have complimentary relationship where India has market and reosurces like human and Cyprus has finance and technology. Once there is a momentum from both sides, then there will growth in bilateral relationship and also a boost to EU relationship.
In the present multi-polar world, Cyprus has been one such nation which has respected India’s strategic interests. Cyprus could play an important role as a hub for the deployment of Indian forces for humanitarian relief in the West Asian region, and for assisting in the evacuation of its citizens in times of distress like it helped India to evacuate its citizens from Lebanon in 2006.
Connecting the dots:
Critically examine India Cyprus relation in present multi-polar and transaction-oriented international world.