France and Cyprus

Political relations

Ties between France and Cyprus have strengthened considerably in the last few years owing to several factors: Cyprus joined the UE in 2004, a decision at the highest level was made to establish an enhanced dialogue between the two countries, and Cyprus became a full member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).

The close ties between the two countries have resulted in high-level visits, in particular meetings between the President of Cypruis and the President of the French Republic, first on 26 October 2012, and again on 12 June 2013, allowing France to express its support for a balanced solution to Cyprus’ financial difficulties. The two Presidents met again on the sidelines of the European Council in October 2013. Mr Laurent Fabius made a bilateral visit to Cyprus during the Gymnich meeting in September 2012. And, alongside the Minister Delegate for European Affairs, he received Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Paris on 3 and 4 June 2013. Many meetings also took place between representatives of the two countries in 2014, including the visit of Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Cyprus, to Paris on 19 September.

Since the resumption of negotiations, Mr Harlem Desir has visited Cyprus, on 3 July 2015, as has the French President, who stopped over in Cyprus and met the Cypriot President, Mr Anastasiades, on 4 December that year.

On the Cyprus issue, France supports the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus, along with the Turkish Cypriot community, to find a fair and sustainable solution to reunify the island, in the form of a bizonal bicommunal federation, in accordance with the principles set down in UN Security Council resolutions and in respect for UE acquis.

Trade and economic relations

Since Cyprus became a member of the EU, France has enhanced its economic presence, developed its direct investments and increased its exports. French foreign direct investment has increased significantly. Almost all sectors are represented: insurance (CNP), banking (BNP Paribas), supermarkets (Carrefour), the environment (EDF Energies Nouvelles created a subsidiary for the development of wind farms, Stereau-Iacovou for wastewater treatment), luxury (Louis Vuitton boutique), agribusiness (Le Sommelier, French Depot), and the construction and infrastructure sector. In the latter sector, Bouygues, Egis and the Nice-Côte d’Azur Chamber of Commerce and Industry hold 42% of shares in the consortium Hermes Airport Ltd. for the construction and management of Larnaka and Paphos international airports over a period of 25 years. This investment, amounting to €650 million, is the largest ever in Cyprus. The Cypriot President and the French Minister of State for European Affairs were both present at Larnaka International Airport’s inauguration in 2009.

France remains one of the top ten suppliers of Cyprus and had a trade surplus of €272 million with it in 2014.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France and Cyprus concluded a cultural agreement in 1969.

Cultural cooperation is traditionally expressed through the obligation for school pupils to learn French in secondary school (as well as English). France stresses to the authorities in Nicosia the importance of French continuing to hold an important place, in keeping with the participation of Cyprus as an associate member of the IOF since 2006.

This is linked to the trilingual Franco-Cypriot school, which is a flagship project of bilateral cooperation. The opening of the new school in 2012 was a key event in our bilateral cooperation.

The cultural network also includes the French Institute in Nicosia and two branches of the Alliance Française, in Limassol and Paphos.

Our cooperation focuses on the following:

Educational cooperation

The key accomplishment of this cooperation has been the creation, in 2012, of a French-Greek-English trilingual school (primary and secondary), building on the pre-existing Arthur Rimbaud French School (150 pupils) and moving into the former premises of the Higher Technical Institute of Cyprus. This school is attended by Cypriot pupils, who can take either the French Baccalaureate or the Apolytirion, and get into French, Cypriot, or Greek universities. It could help make Cyprus a hub of educational excellence for other Eastern Mediterranean populations.

By guaranteeing a new generation of Cypriot students to follow on from those who came to study in France after the events of 1974, the Franco-Cypriot school also helps sustain the Francophone and Francophile network of 62,000 people. There are 480 French teachers in Cyprus, in addition to 30 in the northern part.

A memorandum on the implementation of a multi-annual project to teach French to Cypriot civil servants was signed in 2007 between the OIF, Cyprus, France, the French community in Belgium, and Luxembourg. Approximately 500 Cypriot civil servants responsible for Community affairs have gradually been taught to use French.

Academic cooperation

Nearly half of Cypriot students study abroad. With 350 Cypriot students, France is ranked the fourth most popular destination country, but is in competition with the Central and Eastern European countries. The participation of French universities at the student fair in Nicosia in particular has helped to promote and enhance the attractiveness of studying in France.

Scientific cooperation

Public support for technological research and development is relatively new. R&D spending in Cyprus represents less than 0.5% of GDP, two thirds of it coming from the public sector. Research is mainly undertaken at the University of Cyprus and the Cyprus University of Technology. Cyprus welcomed the Hubert Curien Partnership “Zenon”. This programme, which finances the mobility of young researchers and the diversification of Cypriot scientific exchanges, is the most important aspect of our scientific cooperation.

Updated: 22 December 2015