Closeness and depth of relations between Cypriot and Jewish communities at an unprecedented level, says Foreign Minister

The closeness and depth of the relations between the Cypriot and Jewish communities is at an unprecedented level, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicos Christodoulides has said.

Christodoulides, who is in London for the Commonwealth Summit, delivered a speech on Tuesday evening at an event organized by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He spoke of a unique historical bond of friendship between the two communities that has shined bright even in the darkest of times.

The Minister pointed out that our bilateral relationship has significantly grown, not by chance but by choice, adding that we are proud of how we have taken the historical and cultural affinity between our people to the level of strategic cooperation between Cyprus and Israel.

Our closeness now extends to more than geography and includes cooperation in an array of fields: contacts, diaspora, energy, economic exchanges, security, defense. Our cooperation is indeed strategic. Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have been implementing their vision for the region of the Eastern Mediterranean and have established a trilateral cooperation mechanism, with frequent exchange of high-level meetings and contacts among our leadership on a wide array of issues that are indicative of the depth and multitude of our shared agenda. People to people contacts, combatting the evil of anti-Semitism is at the heart of this agenda, he added.

He said that the event was a celebration and a reaffirmation of our common vision and desire to firmly attach our ties in the future, to enable them to blossom by working together, learning from each other and creating synergies within the Commonwealth and beyond.

The Foreign Minister added that the Commonwealth provided a most fertile context in which to grow further together as it is one of the world’s oldest political associations. Born from the ashes of the second World War, its purpose has been to be a compelling force of good, an effective network for cooperation, promotion of international understanding, peace, embracing diversity, but also shared history and tradition, he said.

Christodoulides pointed out that a momentous point of the common history of the two countries comes following the Second World War, when Cypriots were deeply touched by the drama of survivors escaping the horror of the Holocaust and were inspired by their determination to create a better life.

For around 53,000 Jews, Cyprus was the final frontier on a journey to the Promised Land, a port of call but also confinement during their Exodus from the concentration camps to a free and better life. The human stories of how they were embraced by Cypriots, offered shelter in every sense of the word, are truly touching. More 2200 children were born in camps in Cyprus and till this day many of them return � and are welcomed – to their place of birth. The solidarity exhibited by the Cypriots towards Jewish refugees, played its small part in contributing to many refugees’ restoration of their shattered belief in fundamental human dignity and good, he said.

In modern history both our peoples have suffered displacement, loss, and persecution. So we take the lessons of the Jewish people to heart and stand in deep solidarity with the Jewish people, the Minister said.

Christodoulides added that in Cyprus the memory of the survivors of the horrors of the Shoah , but also the perseverance of Jewish survivors to build new lives and to create the state that would welcome them from across the world, is boldly engraved in our collective memory because it is this kind of perseverance that Cypriots displayed following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, when we were forcibly displaced from our homes, towns and villages, and had to rebuild our lives and our country from nothing.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated UN-led round of negotiations have yet to lead to an agreement which would reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, under a federal roof.

Source: Cyprus News Agency