Qatar Airways will be flying directly to Cyprus as of April 29 and this will boost investment interest from the Arab world, Finance Minister Haris Georgiades said yesterday.
But big investments cannot take place from one day to another, he added.
“It takes time, the government is pushing air connection between the Gulf and Cyprus. Qatar’s direct flights begin end of this month,” Georgiades told state radio.
In addition, Qatari officials heading state investment funds are to visit Cyprus early in May to explore possibilities.
In January, Qatar Airways said in a statement that Larnaca was a destination they were pleased to be providing regular scheduled service to.
It also said: “We are continually striving to provide customers with more options of unique destinations to visit, and the Mediterranean city of Larnaca is a welcomed new addition to the airline’s route map.”
The airline will be flying four times a week to Larnaca – its first route to Cyprus.
The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed this decision saying that business relations between Cyprus and Qatar were expanding rapidly.
“It was almost a must to have direct flights, it’s a very positive development. Qatar Airways must have realised the great potential of Cyprus as a holiday destination as well, that’s probably why they included it in their routes,” the chamber’s Elena Tanou said.
In January, President Anastasiades paid a three-day official visit to Qatar – the richest country in the world – in a bid to lure investment to debt-ridden Cyprus (photo).
He said that Qataris were keen to invest in various sectors of the island’s ailing economy and that Cypriots are in a position to respond to their interests.
But he had also sent a warning in a bid to avert fresh speculation that saw deals between the two states go slightly awry as in the recent past.
The Gulf state almost landed a joint venture deal with the previous government involving a prime plot opposite the Nicosia Hilton. And then late last year Qatar offered to buy the Cyprus Airways time slot at Heathrow Airport.
But both deals went up in flames at the last minute amid indications that the blame lied in the Cypriot camp.
Anastasiades whose high-profile visit aimed at mending fences also said that Qataris were interested to have Cypriot construction and other companies take over projects in their country. And that was another success story, he added.
Club officials of APOEL and AEL hit out against the police on Tuesday after scuffles broke out between fans of both sides prior to kickoff.
Witnesses said that trouble erupted on the Nicosia-Limassol motorway, just shy of the GSP Stadium and yards away from the Nuevo Camp Futsal Pitches. Fights also broke out at both roundabouts between fans, further highlighting gaps in police’s security measures ahead of the heated encounter.
The fire services were also called to several fields outside the ground after small fires were spotted while the fights on the motorway also brought traffic to a temporary standstill.
State television later reported that nine people were arrested in connection with the violence while four people – two police officers and two fans – were also injured.
One fan was last night in hospital in serious condition after being struck in the eye by a stray rock that had been thrown. More arrests are also expected to take place according to one police official.
“In the last seven days, we held four meetings with the police in a bid to enforce preventative measures,” APOEL media officer Nektarios Petevinos told Super Sport FM. “It seems that the only thing we managed to achieve was successfully wasting our time. The police informed us that officers would be present in large numbers. Well where are they?”
He added, “Instead of looking forward to what should be a great game of football, we are forced to discuss the police’s inability to properly marshal fans travelling to the ground.”
Meanwhile, AEL general manager Ploutis Avraam also questioned the measures of the police, going as far as to accuse them of being “unprepared” to act.
“Security measures were not honoured and as a result, our fans were attacked by APOEL fans after becoming trapped. We have already informed the Justice Minister [Ionas Nicolaou]. The police came unprepared. We are fortunate that the situation didn’t escalate.”
Fighting between rival fans has become a frequent phenomenon in Cyprus in the last ten years despite continuous campaigns by the clubs, the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the police.
Yesterday, police spokesman Andreas Angelides hit back at claims that the police failed to take the necessary precautions saying that clubs were using the police as a scapegoat for the clashes that took place.
The game ended in a 3-0 victory to APOEL – a result which sent them to the top of the league table above AEL and with five games still to go.