The President of the Republic Mr Nicos Anastasiades met today, at the Presidential Palace, with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Mr Xavier Bettel, who is paying an official visit to Cyprus.
Following their private meeting, and the expanded talks between the delegations of the two countries, the President and the Prime Minister made remarks to the Media.
In his remarks, President Anastasiades said that «It is with great pleasure that I welcome the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and above all my good friend, Xavier Bettel, whose visit to our country has been long overdue, because of the prevalence of the pandemic for the past two years.
At the outset, I would like to express my enormous respect and utmost gratitude to you, dear Xavier, for our long friendship and close collaboration at the European Council, as well as for your genuine support to Cyprus throughout all these years.
It would also be fair to say that Luxembourg is a source of inspiration for many, including ourselves, as a model of a smaller-sized state that effectively addresses the challenges that you are faced with; embraces the opportunities that come your way; and manages to maintain extraordinary political, economic and social stability, thus enabling its citizens to reap the benefits thereof and enjoy prosperity and quality of life.
I am convinced, Mr. Prime Minister, that your visit to Cyprus is truly an important landmark in the relations between our two countries and reflects our joint commitment to give new momentum to our traditionally excellent ties, both bilaterally as well as within the European Union.
Dear Prime Minister, sadly, your visit takes place against the backdrop of the dramatic events in Ukraine, following the Russian invasion and continued war since February 24.
For Cyprus, maintaining our unity at EU level remains imperative in endeavours to exert considerable pressure – both economic and political – on Russia to put an end to this war. A war which can only be resolved through a meaningful dialogue and effective diplomatic means.
The war in Ukraine also highlighted the urgent need to proceed with Europe’s energy independence, in this rapidly changing geopolitical environment.
In this respect, I have elaborated that the discovery of hydrocarbons in Cyprus can significantly contribute towards our goal to strengthen the Union’s energy security by diversifying the sources and routes of our energy supply, with the prospect of a corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Europe gaining a new momentum in recent months.
The Prime Minister and I agree that this is the right time to bring fresh impetus to the existing cooperation between Cyprus and Luxembourg and explore concrete ways to take our relations forward, amplifying the benefits for our people.
During our consultations we had a frank and open exchange on ways to substantially upgrade our relationship in all possible fields of cooperation, including Education, Tourism, Financial Services, as well as Research and Innovation.
Another area Ι would be remiss had I not mentioned, is the great potential for cooperation in renewable energy, which of course is one of the basic pillars of the European Green Deal.
Having said that, I must say that with the Prime Minister we took stock of pressing issues on the European agenda where we can intensify our collaboration, such as Migration, Climate Change, the Energy crisis, Security and Defence, and the Digital transition.
Allow me at this point to emphasize that Cypriots fully understand the tragedy that the Ukrainian people are facing, as we have also been victims of the illegal Turkish invasion which resulted in the division of the island and, since 1974, the ongoing military occupation of 37% of the territory of Republic of Cyprus by Turkey and the forcible displacement of a third of its population from their homes.
To this end, I had the opportunity to brief Prime Minister Bettel on the latest state of play of the Cyprus Question, outlining the challenges we currently face to pave the way forward for the resumption of the negotiations.
I once more reiterated my unwavering commitment to continue working tirelessly for the reunification of Cyprus and its people, in a functional and viable bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and the values and principles of the European Union.
Within this framework, I also informed Prime Minister Bettel for the bold Confidence Building Measures that I have proposed and which I truly believe can contribute to establishing a conducive environment that will positively support our efforts in resuming the process.
Of course, it goes without saying that for such an environment to be in place, Turkey should terminate its illegal and provocative actions in violation of international law, either on sea or on the ground, as well as unfounded claims supported by the Turkish Cypriot community such as accepting a two-state solution.
Dear Xavier, we always refer to it as the “Cyprus Problem”, but in essence, it is a European problem. Today you are visiting the last divided capital of Europe, the only divided Member State.
In this context, I cannot stress enough how much Cyprus continues to rely upon the support of the European Union and its Member States in our efforts to reunify our country.
Having said that, dear friends, Luxembourg and personally Prime Minister Bettel, have always been one of Cyprus’ closest and most reliable partners in our efforts to achieve a just and viable solution and end the current unacceptable status quo, always in full respect of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country.
Therefore, I want to take this opportunity and express my sincere gratitude and deep appreciation to Prime Minister Bettel for always standing by our side, in words and deeds.
In welcoming once again the Prime Minister of Luxembourg to Cyprus, I wish to underline yet again my pleasure since this visit opens a new chapter in our relations for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples.»
On his part, the Prime Minister said, among other things, that both countries share common values.
Referring to the situation in Ukraine he said that it is a challenge for all of us when we witness what happens there and added that the EU cannot consider putting a price tag on the sanctions against Russia.
He also added that Europe should have alternative sources of Energy and Luxembourg is a supporter of this view.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Mr Bettel said that his country supports the efforts by the President to resolve the issue and welcomed the renewal of the term of UNFICYP. He added that every time he meets President Anastasiades in Brussels for the European Union Council sessions he can understand by the passion and the emotions of the President how it is to live in a European country that is divided for so many years.