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16 June, 2024
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Chinese Ambassador stresses cooperation for Vasiliko LNG success

Vasiliko LNG project poised for 2024-2025 completion pending collaboration

Newsroom / CNA

The main body of the Vasiliko LNG project could be completed at the end of 2024 or early in 2025, as long as various parties can truly work together with each other, the Ambassador of China to Cyprus, Liu Yantao said on Thursday.

“The Vasiliko project is a bit complicated. Now it has come back on normal track. We are seeing major opportunities and the prospects are bright,” Liu said.

He was responding to questions by journalists, in the framework of a media workshop organized by the Embassy of China in Nicosia on the “Two Sessions”, namely the annual session of the National People’s Congress and the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, that wrapped up earlier this month in Beijing and which as the Ambassador said “is an important window for the world to observe and understand China,” its democracy, economy and foreign policy.

Replying to a question about the problems which arose regarding the construction of the LNG terminal in Vasiliko, at Larnaca district, by the Chinese CPP-Metron Consortium, the Chinese Ambassador noted, speaking through an interpreter that after the media reports and the discussions made on this issue at the moment we can all understand the cause of the problem and who is to take the responsibility.

He said that last Friday a representative of the Consortium had a very good meeting with the Cypriot Minister of Energy and they reached a very constructive mutual understanding, while last Saturday, President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, paid a visit to the construction site and made a very positive statement.

“The Cypriot government, in particular President Christodoulides have attached great importance to and greatly supported this project. We highly appreciate this,” he added.

“Because of COVID-19 and because of other matters we have seen some questions about this project. But still good things will happen after many tests,” the Ambassador went on to say.

“I think it is very important for the two sides to bare in mind the larger picture, work together with sincerity, observe the contract and pursue mutual benefit. As far as the two sides could follow such a spirit, they will be able to handle relevant problems and make this project one that delivers benefits for the people, achieves win-win results and demonstrates the friendship between the two countries,” Liu noted.

He said that the Vasiliko LNG terminal is a very good project and there is no such issue as who insults whom. “Both sides are having friendship with each other, both sides are following their contractor obligations and are pursuing mutual benefits,” he noted and expressed hope that the sides will continue to attach importance to and support this project.

“And we hope that this project will be completed smoothly at an early date so that that Cypriot people could get access to LNG electricity at an early date and Cyprus will achieve green energy transformation at an early date,” he added.

The Chinese Ambassador also expressed hope that relevant downstream projects could also be put on the agenda, so that the whole project could deliver its results at an early date. He explained that what he means it the establishment of pipelines and the transformation of the power station.

Asked if he can assure that the project will be fulfilled within the deadline, the Ambassador said that “the deadline in the original contract was set for July 2022 and the deadline set in the supplementary agreement was for July 23rd of this year. However, we have experienced so many developments.”

He stressed that “as long as various parties enhance cooperation with great sincerity the project is expected to be completed at an early date. It is very important to properly handle relationships between the various parties. Then the project could be expected to be completed at an early date,” he noted.

He explained that this project has two parts. “One is the FSRU vessel. The project on this is being carried out in Shanghai and over 99.9% of this vessel has already been completed,” he said, adding that it will be able for the vessel to be handed over in April or in May.

The second part is that of the onshore constructions. As the Ambassador noted nearly 50% of the onshore construction project has been completed. He clarified that these onshore facilities do not contain very sophisticated or high technologies.

“Some Chinese workers will soon come to Cyprus to participate in the development of the onshore facilities and with the Chinese efficiency and with the Chinese speed the prospect for this project is very optimistic,” Liu said

He underlined that “as long as various parties can truly work together with each other then I think the main body of the Vasiliko project could be completed at the end of this year or early next year.”

Asked about China’s position vis-à-vis renewed efforts by the UNSG to solve the Cyprus question with the appointment recently of his Personal Envoy on Cyprus María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Liu said that “we have been following this question very closely.”

“There should be a settlement of the Cyprus problem sooner or later. This represents the aspirations of not only the Cypriot people but also the international community,” he added.

He said that China takes a consistent and clear position on this. “We firmly support UNSC resolutions and we support a resumption of talks and the principle of bizonal, bicommunal federation. We support all efforts made by various parties for the resumption of talks. We hope that on the basis of the peace talks a comprehensive, just and enduring settlement of the Cyprus problem will be achieved at an early date,” Liu noted.

He said that the problem has been going on for a long time “but now we are seeing a new window of opportunities. That is the appointment by the UNSG of his Personal Envoy on the Cyprus problem. I myself have met with Madame Holguin and we hope that the parties will support her work so as to ensure that the two communities will build consensus at an early date so as to pave the way for the resumption of talks,” he added.

China, he noted, will continue to play an objective and fair role in facilitating the achievement of the vision of reunification of Cyprus both at the Security Council and at bilateral occasions

Asked about practical steps that can be taken in order to further enhance relations between Cyprus and China, the Ambassador said that China and Cyprus are having very good relations.

“What we have now is a strategic partnership. The China-Cyprus relationship has bright prospects and increasingly expanding areas of cooperation,” he said

Moreover, the Chinese Ambassador said the two countries have been firmly committed to the One China principle and the One Cyprus principle. “And this is a very important political foundation for the further growth of our strategic partnership and friendship between the two countries,” he added.

Referring to China-EU relations, the Ambassador said that the government and the people of Cyprus have played a very constructive role promoting these relations. “We highly appreciate this and we hope that Cyprus will continue to play such a constructive and positive role,” he noted.

Liu also said that the two countries share the same principles and values and that same or similar positions on major international issues.

He further stressed that China is ready to further strengthen cooperation with Cyprus in digital development, green energy, innovation and tourism.

The Ambassador also underlined the importance of contacts between peoples of the two countries and inter-civilization exchanges. He said that the two sides will work on the possibility of signing agreements related to culture, youth and other fields.

Liu furthermore noted eight Chinese cities and four Cypriot cities have jointly established the China-Cyprus Sister City Alliance.

Moreover, in his keynote speech at the beginning of the workshop, the Ambassador said that Chinese President Xi Jinping has maintained sound interactions with President Christodoulides. The two countries have always firmly supported each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, and adhered to the one-China principle and the one-Cyprus principle, he added.

Furthermore, he noted that the China-Cyprus trade volume was close to 1 billion US dollars last year, of which Cyprus export to China increased by 11.4% year-on-year. Chinese companies have given strong boost to the green and digital transformation of Cyprus.

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. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar of Columbia as his personal envoy for Cyprus, to assume a Good Offices role on his behalf and search for common ground on the way forward in the Cyprus issue.

Cyprus  |  energy  |  LNG  |  China

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