Press Conference on the Announcement of the new University of Cyprus
“Faculty of Marine Science and Technology”,
Tuesday, 10/10/2017 Larnaca Municipal Art Gallery
Speech of Mr. Zacharias Siokouros, President of MarInEM
Honorable Secretary General, Honorable Director, Honorable Mayor, Honorable Rector, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be present at this event, which constitutes a culmination of our long-term efforts in promoting Research, Technology, Innovation and Environmental Protection, as well as Education and Training within and for the Maritime Industry, in the context of Sustainable Blue Growth.
Since 2010, which is the founding year of the Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean (in brief Mar.In.EM), we have been undertaking and participating in a series of actions and initiatives -in close cooperation with national, local, academic and private institutions as well as with European ones- with the ultimate goal to strengthen the sectors of Marine and Maritime Innovation and Technology, Maritime Education and Training, Coastal and Maritime Tourism, Maritime Transport, Maritime Safety and Surveillance and Marine Environment and Sustainability.
Indicatively, we have been actively participating in the establishment -in Larnaca-of the first Maritime Academy in Cyprus by the University of Nicosia.
In addition, from 2013 onwards, we have been organizing jointly with the Cyprus Shortsea Promotion Centre (CSPC) and with the support of the Ministry of Transport and Communications as well as in cooperation with the Ministry of Education the Blue Career Days, aiming at promoting the importance of blue professions to young people as well as at informing them on their employment prospects in these professions.
We were also greatly involved in the establishment -in Larnaca- of the new Faculty of Marine Science and Technology of the University of Cyprus as well as in the launching -as from September 2018- of the new Postgraduate Program “MSc in Marine Technology” of the University of Cyprus.
We are therefore very delighted to see that all those we envisioned and for which we have been working hard along with our partners, have finally become true.
But we do not rest.
One additional important initiative in which we have been participating is the creation -in Cyprus- of the “Marine and Maritime Research, Innovation and Technology Centre of Excellence –MaRITeC-X”. In particular, “MaRITeC-X” is an ambitious project that has been granted funding from the European Commission under the HORIZON2020 Programme, aiming at fostering scientific and business excellence in sectors where Cyprus enjoys comparative advantages such as – the crucial for the island- Marine and Maritime sectors, including the -rapidly emerging – Offshore Energy sector. Through the promotion of partnerships and synergies between top institutions and businesses which are active in the fields of research, technology and innovation for the Blue Economy, the Centre will contribute to knowledge transfer, to the development, application and dissemination of cutting-edge technologies and to the exchange of best practices, thus responding to the marine and maritime sectors’ real needs. At the same time, MaRITeC-X will encourage jobs creation in those sectors -especially for young scientists- and it will supply them with highly qualified and skilled staff, thereby enhancing their competitiveness.
Another significant initiative of ours is the launching of the International “Pyrgotelis Zoitos Award” for outstanding contribution to the advancement of Marine Technology, to be awarded -as from 2019 and during the biennial international shipping conference “Maritime Cyprus”- to individuals with distinguished accomplishments and experience in the Marine Technology field. These individuals will be selected by a Committee composed of members of MaRITeC-X and of the University of Cyprus.
At this point it is worth mentioning that Pyrgotelis Zoitos was a Cypriot shipbuilder who, during the years of Ptolemy the Second the Philadelph, was particularly honored, as he built ships with twenty and thirty rows of oars, which constituted a significant advancement and innovation in the Marine Technology of that time. We hope to have many such “Pyrgotelides” in the future who will help maintain and upgrade a long-standing remarkable maritime tradition.
Allow me to refer to certain historical facts and persons, testifying to this tradition:
- Cypriots were also great shipbuilders. Pliny the Elder reports that the Cypriots had invented a new kind of ship with oars, the Kerkouros. Cyprus shipyards accepted many orders. Around 1800 BC, the Queen of the Assyrians Semiramis used Cypriot shipbuilders. The King of Persia, Pharnabazus, ordered one hundred triremes (ships with three rows of oars) from Cyprus.
- Cypriots did not only love the sea, but, as Eusebius states in “Chronikon”, after the Trojan War and for the next 33 years (880 to 847 BC), they became sea rulers, dominating the Mediterranean.
- Efstathios reaffirmed: “Cypriots are the most prosperous islanders. They once dominated the sea too”
- Two Cypriots, Gorgos and Timonax were generals in the Xerxes fleet and participated with 150 Cypriot ships.
- Evagoras, the king of Salamis, fought against the Persians with 90 triremes (20 from Tyros and 70 from Cyprus), while Cypriots hampered the food supply of the Persian with pirate ships.
- The Cypriots offered to Alexander the Great 120 ships which participated in the naval siege of Tyros. The ships had five rows of oars. Moreover, the ships of Alexander the Great which crossed the Hydaspes River in India were manned with Cypriots.
- During the Egyptian domination in Cyprus, small ports were developed (Engomi, Larnaca, Maroni) for the trade of copper. Regular harbors began to be created with the arrival of the Phoenicians who were great sailors.
- 7 shipyard ramps were excavated in Kition. Other ancient shipyards have been found in Amathus and in Paphos. The latter, due its harbor, became the capital of the Ptolemies of Cyprus in the 4th century BC. Other ancient harbors were located in Salamina, Palaipaphos, Arsinoe, Kourion, Soli, Marion, Lapithos, Kyrenia, Karpasia etc.
Consequently, owing to a historical tradition, our island must continue to invest in Marine and Maritime Research, Technology, Innovation, Training and Education. It is its historical mission, but also an imperative need, since the Blue Economy sectors have long been the foundation of the national economy.