Cyprus welcomes the REC

REC Deputy Executive Director's visit to Cyprus opens up new opportunities for cooperation

July 3, 2015
THE NEWEST MEMBER: Radoje Lausevic, at right, meets with Nicos Kouyialis.

"Following Cyprus' recent signature to the REC Charter, we are looking forward to concrete actions and results," Nicos Kouyialis, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment (MARDE) of Cyprus told REC Deputy Executive Director Radoje Lausevic on July 2 in Nicosia. A meeting with Minister and his team was arranged soon after the Government of Cyprus became the 33rd member to sign the REC Charter and International Agreement, which took place during the second week of June as the REC celebrated its 25th anniversary.

"The REC will follow up with an expert-level discussion with the MARDE team in order to analyse identified priorities and translate them into concrete project proposals," Lausevic responded, adding that "through joint action we will try to attract donor response and mobilise needed resources for project implementation."

GETTING STARTED: REC and MARDE experts consult in Nicosia.

Following the meeting with Minister Kouyialis, a discussion was held to draft start-up activities between MARDE and the REC. MARDE Senior Officer Charalambos Hadjipakkos and Anthoula Savvides, Head of the Minister's Office, confirmed that Cyprus has already mobilised needed resources for institutional collaboration and participation in the REC's governing structures.

"Facilities of the Cyprus Forestry College are available immediately to use for jointly developed capacity building programmes, courses on sustainable development or various trainings," said Takis Tsintides, Director of the Department of Forests. Marina Argyrou, acting Director of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, outlined Cyprus' marine protection and aquaculture priorities, while Maria Philippou, Executive Engineer in Water Development Department, discussed integrated water management activities as a topic of common interest.

SALT LAKE STRATEGY: Experts discuss plans for a Larnaca Salt Lake environmental center.

Experts from MARDE's Department of Environment, Elena Stylianopoulou, Evdokia Kountouri and Ioanna Constantinidou, presented a fully developed project for setting up an environmental centre on Larnaca Salt Lake, one of the most important wetlands of Cyprus.

"The REC will mobilise expert teams to work with MARDE experts on development project proposals in the coming weeks," Lausevic explained, mentioning that short-term activities to follow were also agreed.

The REC Deputy Executive Director met later in the day with Larnaca municipal officials. Larnica Mayor Andreas Louroutziatis confirmed his readiness to explore the most feasible options for supporting cooperation with the REC. "Setting up an environmental centre at Larnaca Salt Lake will not only strengthen environmental protection, but also promote multiculturalism and ethnic tolerance, as on the Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the holiest of shrines within Ottoman Islam, sits on the lake shore," said Louroutziatis.

EXPLORING OPTIONS: From left to right: Andreas Louroutziatis, Mayor of Larnaca; Andreas Karakatsanis, Chief Municipal Engineer; Eleftheros Embedoklis, Chief Executive; and Radoje Lausevic, REC Deputy Executive Director.
Lausevic's visit to Cyprus as part of REC's regional activities confirms that there are feasible opportunities for Central and Eastern Europe to share further its experiences and lessons learned with the South-Eastern Europe and Mediterranean regions.