The Presidents of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Israel Isaac Herzog on Wednesday condemned the war in Ukraine, expressed their deep sorrow for the people of Ukraine and emphasized the need for the crisis to end soon with diplomatic means and via dialogue.
Herzog paid an official visit to the island and held consultations with the President of Cyprus which covered the invasion of Russia in Ukraine, the bilateral cooperation, the Cyprus issue and Cyprus’ initiative for the climate crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Ukraine and the need for dialogue
President Anastasiades said that as Cypriots, we relate very closely to the plight of the Ukrainian people as we, ourselves, have been victims and are still suffering from the tragic consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion.
“As such, it goes without saying that we have joined our voice with that of our partners in the EU and beyond in condemning the Russian invasion and in taking steps for assisting the Ukrainian people in these critical moments. We both agree dear President that the current crisis will have grave repercussions globally, as we both agree that it can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomatic means”, he said.
President Herzog in his statement spoke of a terrible tragedy that we see unfolding in front of our eyes saying that “the war in Ukraine is an affront to the international order”.
He expressed his deep pain and sorrow adding that he is deeply concerned about the people of Ukraine and the members of the Jewish community and that he hopes “and we all hope and pray that this war ends quickly”.
He also said that a memorial that was set up in a village outside Kiev for 33,000 Jews, victims of the Nazis during WWII, was bombed yesterday by the Russians.
He went on to say that the Israeli government has reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s national integrity and joined the international community in supporting the resolution at the UN General Assembly.
“Israel is working to help advance a diplomatic solution in Ukraine and has offered its services to this end”, he noted.
Herzog also said that Israel has sent an unprecedented amount of humanitarian aid of 100 tons, describing this act as a moral obligation.
Bilateral cooperation-energy-climate crisis
President Anastasiades said that the excellent relations on the political sphere are also mirrored in the robust cooperation between our respective business and scientific communities, and, even more importantly, in ever increasing the people-to-people contacts.
“The fact that the war in Ukraine greatly impacts the energy supply and its prices, reinforces even more the argument and the belief that the EU needs diversified and stable energy supplies to guarantee its energy security. In this regard, we are convinced that the Eastern Mediterranean, of which our countries are integral part, can prove highly beneficial to the EU’s energy security, providing alternative routes and also cleaner energy sources”, Cyprus President said.
He went on to say that the East Med Pipeline, if proven technically and financially viable, can provide gas and hydrogen, thus diversifying European supply routes and adapting to various needs of the market. In addition, he said, the EuroAsia Interconnector, with its practical significance and its strategic value in promoting cross border energy cooperation, has attracted the strong support of the EU, with the European Commission recently approving significant part of its financing.
Cyprus President also said that he conveyed to President Herzog his appreciation for Israel’s active support for the Cyprus’ Climate Initiative for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
As regards the trilateral cooperation mechanism with Greece, he said that this is a cooperation based on our common assessment that the increasing and ever-changing challenges the international order and our own region are facing, can only be navigated through dialogue and adherence to international law.
“This view is shared more widely, as showcased by the readiness of the United States to engage in an extended form of our Trilateral, as a 3-plus-1 format”, he noted.
President Herzog in his statements said that President Anastasiades has played a huge role in building friendships and strategic partnership with Greece.
“Cyprus, Israel and Greece are anchors of stability in the Mediterranean, we continue to benefit from these bonds. Cyprus and Israel relationship is a pillar of stability in the Mediterranean and a key to a sustainable and prosperous region in the future”, he noted.
The Israeli President referred to the bilateral cooperation in many fields which creates new economic opportunities for the benefit of our borders and cities. He also spoke of the cooperation in combating fires in both countries saying that friends are there to assist when you need them.
Herzog spoke of the need to work to deepen bilateral relations in culture fields and people to people relationships so that young leaders can shape the next generation of the bilateral cooperation.
He praised President Anastasiades’ leadership in regional cooperation in the fields of climate change and energy.
“We strongly support developing such forms through strategic action plans. And expanding them to include additional partners especially the US”, he said.
He also referred to President Anastasiades’ recent visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and the benefits and new possibilities for joint initiatives.
“There are new winds of peace blowing through our region. The historic Abrahan Accords are creating new possibilities for joint initiatives as we saw at the Paphos forum with the UAE”, he said.
President Anastasiades said that he briefed his counterpart and elaborated on our numerous and persistent efforts, including the proposed confidence building measures (CBMs), to resume a meaningful and result-oriented negotiation process.
“Unfortunately, these are met both by claims from Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership for a two-state solution that run contrary to the agreed basis of the settlement and by unilateral and illegal actions on the ground and at sea which run contrary to international law and the UN Security – Council Resolutions”, he said.
He went on to say that it remains vital that all stakeholders involved will work constructively towards the creation of the necessary conditions for results-oriented negotiations to take place and added that he expressed his appreciation “that you (President Herzog) will convey our messages during your upcoming visit to Turkey.
President Herzog in his statements said that the conflict in Ukraine is a reminder of the necessity of working together to protect our values, principles and interests. “And is exactly my message in Turkey next week, as I believe in cooperation between people and all faiths for the well-being of humanity”, he said.
He noted also that in these times of hardship and turmoil “we must stand together and reaffirm our longstanding and historic alliances”.
Following the statements to the Press, President Anastasiades decorated the President of Israel with the The Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios the Third, one of the highest honors the Republic of Cyprus can bestow, as he noted in his speech.
President Anastasiades said that Herzog’s ties with the island have been forged before his own birth and spoke of the connection through his grandparents who were an integral part of what might be called the island’s first large-scale business venture in agriculture in the 1930’s.
He also noted that colonial Cyprus, became a place of internment for 53,000 Shoah survivors, on their way to their Homeland and the Herzog family, making the best use of its connections to the island, provided concrete and significant assistance towards the interned Jews, giving them a glimmer of hope in humanity in those darkest of times.
Anastasiades also spoke of his personal contribution in establishing close cooperation between the diasporas of Cyprus, Israel and Greece and his well-known campaign against antisemitism.
He said that Cyprus has recently obtained the status of an observer member to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as proof of our strong commitment to respect for diversity and combatting anti-Semitism in all its forms.
The President also noted that the Grand Collar is bestowed to President Herzog in view of his heritage, his contribution to-date and of his future efforts in promoting universal values and enhancing the ties between our two nations.
President Herzog thanked President Anastasiades for his contribution to strengthen bilateral relations and for his deep commitment to human values and the fight against intolerance and anti-Semitism.
He added that he is a great friend of Cyprus and referred extensively to his family`s close ties to the island. He also referred to the help of Cyprus, which served as a refuge for thousands of Jews during World War II, which expresses the special values of the people of Cyprus, as he noted.
President Herzog said that he accepts this distinction on behalf of all those thousands of Jewish refugees. Finally, he invited the President of the Republic to visit Israel, expressing the desire to decorate him with a similar honorary distinction, while pointing out the principles with which President Anastasiades is serving his term.
President Anastasiades then hosted an official luncheon for President of Israel and his delegation.