The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, received today Thursday, 26th July 2018, at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the credentials of the new Ambassadors to the Republic of Cyprus from the countries: Switzerland, Portugal, Holy See, Laos, Latvia, Ecuador, Moldova, Dominican Republic, Uganda and Nigeria.
Welcoming the new Ambassadors, the President of the Republic said:
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and distinct honour that I welcome you at the Presidential Palace today, having just received the Letters of Credence appointing you as the new Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Apostolic Nuncio of your friendly countries to the Republic of Cyprus.
I would like to assure you that my Government and I personally, will provide every assistance and support in the performance of your high duties and in further advancing the relationship between the Republic of Cyprus and your countries of origin, to the mutual benefit of our peoples.
Please allow me at the outset to express the deep sorrow, the condolences and the unwavering support of the people of Cyprus, of my Government and me personally, to the Greek people following the tragedy that the whole country is experiencing following the deadly fires of last Monday.
At the same time, dear Ambassador Khitchadeth, I was sadly informed about the catastrophic dam collapse in Southern Laos. Please convey to President Vorachith and to the people of Laos our sincere condolences. During these difficult times our prayers are with the victims, those still missing and their families.
There are some fundamental elements that come to mind when we think about Cyprus:
- An island state in Eastern Mediterranean at a crossing point between Europe, Asia and Africa being an EU member state at its southeastern corner;
- A country affected so many times by its historically turbulent neighborhood;
- A country recently blessed together with its neighbors with the discovery of hydrocarbons, and, sadly;
- The last divided EU member state.
The acknowledgment of these attributes and the variability of some of them, make one realize the dynamics linked to the geostrategic location of Cyprus.
In this regard, the geopolitical role that a country can assume is closely related to its foreign policy orientations and objectives, including the ways and means of implementing them.
Hence, one of the main goals of my Government has been the adoption of a comprehensive and extrovert foreign policy that aims at:
It is our strong belief that the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, including within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, can serve as a catalyst for a broader cooperation on a regional level.
Cooperation in hydrocarbons development can have a positive spillover effect in the political relations between the Eastern Mediterranean countries, building the foundations for regional peace. After all, economic partnerships form an integral part of political synergies.
Over the past years, we have progressed remarkably towards the realisation of our exploration program, despite threats or aggressive acts we have encountered, which we aspire to consolidate Cyprus as a natural gas producer and a transit country.
During the past few years we have succeeded in turning an economy in distress, into a story of strong economic recovery, that gained international praise.
The positive repercussions of an ambitious reform programme and the careful management of state finances are being reflected through, among others, successive budget surpluses, a dynamic growth rate of 4%, a drastic reduction in unemployment, consecutive upgrades of our economy by international rating agencies, as well as a significant reduction in taxation.
Having talked about the importance of achieving peace and stability in our immediate neighborhood and the means through which it can be achieved, I cannot ignore to stress the significance and the consequential multiple benefits that the solution of the long-lasting Cyprus problem and the normalization of our relations with Turkey would bring.
In this regard, with a renewed mandate by the people, my top priority remains none other than addressing the unacceptable current state of affairs with the continuing Turkish occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, since there is no doubt that lasting peace and stability can only be achieved through the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
To this end, on numerous occasions, I reiterated in the clearest terms to the UN Secretary-General, our partners in the EU, the Permanent and non-Permanent Members of the Security Council and the international community in general, that I remain strongly committed to resuming the negotiating process.
What is of course required is to create those necessary conditions that will allow the dialogue to resume on the basis of good will and constructive stance from all stakeholders, particularly by the Turkish side, in order to safeguard the positive outcome of the negotiations.
The above-mentioned were reiterated during my recent fruitful meeting with the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus, during which I also stressed that I remain sincerely committed to negotiate a solution within the framework set by the Secretary-General, as clarified on July 4, 2017, with the same determination and positive attitude we have demonstrated since the beginning of the dialogue.
Within this context, I do hope that the meetings of the Special Adviser of the United Nations which will soon take place with all other interested parties and stakeholders involved will allow the Secretary-General to be in a position to resume negotiations.
Taking this opportunity, I wish to remind that the failure of the Conference on Cyprus in July 2017 was precisely due to Turkey’s insistence on its long-standing position in maintaining the continuation of the anachronistic system of guarantees, the unilateral right of intervention, and the permanent presence of Turkish troops on the island.
I also wish to remind that our side submitted comprehensive written proposals for each and every one of Mr Guterres six-point framework, including on a new security architecture that would replace anachronisms and the strategic aspirations of third countries against Cyprus.
Having said the above, at the same time we should also not ignore the remaining significant differences on the other chapters of the Cyprus problem. Differences that can be easily resolved by adopting and respecting what is considered as our obligation: The European acquis.
It is only through adhering to these fundamental principles which determine that a member state of the United Nations and the European Union can only be considered as truly independent and sovereign if it is free of any third country dependencies, that we can truly establish the conditions for prosperity and peaceful co-existence between all the citizens of Cyprus, in an environment of safety and stability.
I truly wish that both our Turkish Cypriots compatriots and Turkey will respond positively to the new prospect that is unfolding again upon us.
On my own behalf, I wish to reassure, once again, of my determination to work tirelessly to reach a comprehensive settlement that will finally reunify our island after 44 years of division, ensuring conditions of safety for the future generations of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, without any third country military troops or guarantees.
A settlement that will satisfy the genuine desire of our people, especially of the younger generations, to live together and peacefully co-exist, collaborate and prosper in a European country which fully respects their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
With this opportunity, I would like to express the deep appreciation of the Government and the people of Cyprus to Your countries’ support to our continuous efforts to reach a just, viable and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, in line with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the EU law, values and principles.
In an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world, the noble ideals and values of peace, freedom, security and economic welfare are best attained by fostering mutual understanding, respect and true friendship.
Our coordinated efforts within the framework of the United Nations and other international bodies are bright examples of the constructive cooperation between our countries and peoples.
Regarding our European Union partners, I would like to reiterate the excellent relations that the Republic of Cyprus historically enjoys with Portugal and Latvia. Let me assure you, Excellencies, of my strong commitment to continue working closely with you aiming at further developing our high level of cooperation both at bilateral and multilateral levels, as well as within the framework of the European Union, in order to deal with the multitude of challenges we face.
I would also like to underline the enviable level of bilateral relations with our EFTA partner, Switzerland, and to thank once more the Swiss Government for its generosity in hosting the recent Conferences on Cyprus.
Our close relations with the Holy See rest on shared values and ecumenical principles. We look forward to continue working together on such fundamental issues as the promotion and protection of religious freedom and religious cultural heritage, both in Cyprus and in our neighbourhood, and beyond.
With regard to Moldova, we are looking forward to explore new opportunities to further enrich our sound relations, particularly in the fields of business, trade, tourism and investments. The implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement opens up new perspectives for a more dynamic cooperation between Moldova and EU member states, including Cyprus.
Cyprus, as an EU member state, strongly supports the EU – Ecuador and the EU – Dominican Republic cooperation and dialogue, respectively, in all areas of mutual interest. My Government looks forward to the strengthening of our bilateral relations and stands ready to join efforts in exploring new fields of cooperation. The 2nd EU-CELAC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which was held in Brussels earlier this month, provided an excellent opportunity for further strengthening and deepening the relations of the European Union and its member states, including Cyprus, with the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
As concerns Nigeria, the fact that our two countries are members of a number of important international organizations, including the Commonwealth, adds additional impetus to our efforts to strengthen the links through close cooperation over critical issues. Within this context, Cyprus fully supports the ever closer cooperation between EU and Nigeria at all levels.
Furthermore, as an EU member state, Cyprus is committed to the further enhancement of the political dialogue and cooperation with Uganda. The EU – Africa partnership offers us an avenue to work together in order to promote common values and principles at the regional and international level.
Last, but not least, Cyprus strongly supports the close relations that the EU pursues with Laos as part of its wider Asia cooperation strategy. With this in mind, we will continue to extend our support in efforts towards the advancement of the EU – Laos relations and the expansion of the cooperation between the EU and South East Asia.
In welcoming you officially to Cyprus, I would kindly ask you to convey to the Heads of States or Governments, as well as to the friendly people of your countries, my warmest greetings, along with a message of sincere friendship and solidarity.
I conclude, by personally assuring you once more of the support of my Government to your noble mission. I have no doubt that your tenure will be highly constructive and fruitful and will enable the sound relationships that Cyprus enjoys with your home countries to further advance and flourish."