Financing has been granted to a project to modernize professional training, a programme for marine observation and monitoring, and for the support of a Cypriot meeting centre (the so-called Home for Cooperation). In this way, Switzerland is making a contribution to Cyprus’ sustainable social development and energy management, and to the fostering of cultural exchange between Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish population groups.
Project to modernize professional training
Training represents a crucial cornerstone for the economic growth of a country. Good professional training increases the possibility of successful integration in the working world, and thereby makes a contribution to social integration. In order to prevent Cyprus from “missing the train” in terms of the increased demands on professional training standards following its membership in the EU, Switzerland is supporting a project for the modernization of technical vocational training run by the Cyprus Productivity Centre (CPC). The objective is to facilitate the entry of young people into professional life and reduce the social exclusion of the unemployed, while creating – and sustainably ensuring – the possibility of enhancing the professional capacities of the labor force.
The project consists in the modernization of professional training in the technical domain. It provides financing for the expansion of offerings available for professional training in the domain of sustainable energy production and energy conservation at the CPC sites in Nicosia, Limassol, and Larnaca. In order to ensure sustainability, about a dozen teachers from the Cyprus Productivity Centre are being trained so as to make it possible that they themselves, in turn, transfer their knowledge with a view to the long-term future. This opens the way to sharing experiences and to forming partnerships. The Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) in Zollikofen (Bern) is taking part in project steering. The Swiss side is providing a contribution of CHF 1.6 million to support the project, whose implementation will begin in the autumn of 2010.
Protecting marine ecosystems
Marine observation and monitoring programmes are a decisive factor in fostering maritime research, in the protection of marine ecosystems, and in avoiding environmental marine disasters. Various international regulations and requirements are meant to guarantee an internationally high quality of marine monitoring. In Cyprus, there are already some 60 stationary and mobile monitoring platforms that allow for the observation of Cypriot coastal waters. However, the existing infrastructure presents substantial deficiencies and must be upgraded, among other reasons to meet the requirements of the EU. Only in this way can a timely monitoring of the Cypriot coastal waters be guaranteed with an extended coverage.
The project finances the installation and operation of stationary sea platforms equipped with measuring sensors and satellite communications systems to enable the data collected to be transmitted to a central on-land station. This makes it possible to obtain a qualitatively improved evaluation of a larger quantity of data. In addition, financing will also be allotted for mobile stations that can be brought into operation on-board ship at locations simply as desired, or as dictated by necessity. Training courses on the utilization of the instruments and on observation of the sea in general help to enhance the quality and the processing of the compiled data. The data thus collected is constantly updated on the Internet and, in this way, is made available to all research institutes – including those at Swiss universities – for practical utilization and for research purposes.
The overall budget for the project comes to approx. CHF 4.5 million, with the Swiss contribution to the project amounting to some CHF 3.9 million. The project was approved in August 2009 and, in the meantime, is in the midst of being implemented.
Cultural meeting centre for the promotion of Greek – Turkish dialogue
Notwithstanding Cyprus’ 2004 entry into the EU, the island still remains politically divided. The Greek-Cypriot south of the island is separated from the Turkish-Cypriot north by a buffer zone. It is in this very buffer zone that Switzerland, together with the other donor countries of Norway and Sweden, is now supporting the creation of a meeting centre (Home for Cooperation) meant to ease the political situation in Cyprus. By organizing cultural events, exhibitions, and roundtable discussions in the premises of this centre, the “Association for Historical Dialogue and Research” intends to promote dialogue between the Greek and Turkish populations of the island and make a contribution to reconciliation and the establishment of peace in Cyprus. The goal of this project entitled“Revitalising the Dead Zone: An Educational Centre and Home for Cooperation” is to close the gap in terms of the infrastructure in order to foster joint activities by both sides, to support the social integration of the various language and ethnic groups, and in the end to make a contribution to defusing political tensions in Cyprus.
The Swiss share of the approx. CHF 1.6 overall budget amounts to some CHF 190,000. The Swiss contribution to the budget has been earmarked for the renovation of a building in the buffer zone between northern and southern Cyprus and for financing a part of its furnishings. The opening of the Centre is planned for May 2011. Further details can be found at the end of this article.
Cooperation programme to come to a conclusion in 2013
The Swiss-Cypriot cooperation programme is expected to be terminated by the year 2013. This means that Cyprus will be the first country to have used up the funds granted it by the Swiss enlargement contribution to implement projects. All of the projects, i.e., the project to modernize professional training, the project for the protection of marine ecosystems, and the project to support the cultural meeting centre, represent a contribution to the sustainable and social development of Cyprus.