Uriel Lynn at the 15th Cyprus-Israel Annual Business Lunch: “When I am in Cyprus, I feel that I am among friends”

The 15th Cyprus-Israel Annual Business Lunch took place on 28 March 2024 at the Hilton Hotel, Nicosia.

The event, which has been held every year since 2008 other than a brief disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was organised by the Cyprus-Israel Business Association. Speaking at the event, which CBN attended, were Stavros Stavrou, President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, George Papanastasiou, Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry, and Oren Anolik, Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus. The keynote speaker was Uriel Lynn, lawyer and former member of the Knesset and current President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.


Oren Anolik

Stavrou kicked off the event by referencing the close economic relations between Israel and Cyprus, pointing out the high number of Israelis visiting in Cyprus and the island nation’s role as a stepping stone to Europe for Israel. Stavrou also pointed to the proposed Great Sea Interconnector project, which would connect the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece if completed, as a key element in strengthening the two countries’ bilateral relationship.


Stavros Stavrou

Great Sea Interconnector “a must for Israel” and a potential Aphrodite-Ishai resolution

Speaking just a day after returning from a visit to Israel where he had met with his counterpart, George Papanastasiou was keen to express optimism on the part of both sides with regards to the Great Sea Interconnector. Recalling his meeting with Eli Cohen, Papanastasiou quoted him as emphasising that “this connection is a must for Israel” as it will provide it with energy security as well as solutions around renewable energy.

Papanastasiou also added that the two ministers agreed to resolve the Aphrodite-Ishai gas field dispute, which has been a rare bone of contention between the two countries, within the next three months.


George Papanastasiou

Amalthea maritime corridor as a reconstruction gateway

Speaking about the ongoing war in Gaza, the Israeli ambassador Oren Anolik reminded the audience that his country’s priorities are to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities and secure the remaining Israeli hostages. He also pointed out the recent completion of the first shipment of aid to Gaza from Cyprus using the maritime route under the Amalthea Initiative, adding that it could act as a reconstruction gateway after the conclusion of the war.

“When I am in Cyprus, I feel like I am among friends”

It is within the context of the war that Uriel Lynn then spoke on Israel’s economy. Referencing the major issues the country faced in the early 1980s – inflation at 400% and rising, negative trade deficit, etc – the government took drastic measures to increase competitiveness in the private sector. These included moving forward with privatisation initiatives and disincentivising exporters from relying on currency devaluation.


Uriel Lynn

Highlighting the fact that Israel’s economy has recovered substantially in the aftermath of crises, including wars and the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynn attributed its resilience to the government not restraining private businesses and the economy’s diversity. Another factor at this time, according to Lynn, is Israel’s relatively low 60% debt-to-GDP ratio (which is forecast to rise to 67% by 2025).

Lynn concluded by repeating his concept of “two countries, one economy” for the partnership between Israel and Cyprus. “When I am in Cyprus, I feel that I am among friends”, remarked Lynn. “And once this war is over, we can work together on this vision and be successful.”

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