It is truly with great pleasure that I welcome a distinguished delegation of true friends to Nicosia this morning.
At the outset, let me express Cyprus’s, and my personal appreciation, to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations – to each and every one of you – for the vital role you play in further strengthening the key, strategic relationship between Cyprus, the United States, and Israel.
Allow me to also thank Commissioner Fotiou for organizing this visit and bringing our diaspora organisations together in Cyprus.
Indeed, as he has noted in his introductory remarks, our joint commitment to encourage cooperation between our diaspora, was expressly stated in the Declaration of the Israel-Cyprus-Greece Trilateral Summit on December 2016.
The members of the Greek diaspora present here today can certainly testify to the added value of promoting synergies and cooperation between our respective diaspora in the United States.
In a world characterized by the rise of turmoil, extremism, sectarianism and terrorism, Cyprus and Israel share the same values.
In particular, Jewish organisations have reinforced the political message that our partnership is one of truly strategic importance, and have attached another important dimension to our relationship – that of people to people contacts.
I am particularly pleased to hear that today’s meeting will pave the way for a meeting in March in Jerusalem, where progress achieved will be assessed and future goals will be set.
Given the regional unrest and multitude of threats we face, cooperation in all spheres, particularly in the field of security, is imperative.
The relationship we have built with the United States and Israel – and when I say ‘we’ I include all of you – has not taken place by chance. To the contrary, it has been one of strategic choice, and testimony to this is the unprecedented high level meetings between Cyprus,
United States and Israel, at all levels.
Our vision to make our region a hub of cooperation, stability and prosperity has led to the forging of trilateral cooperation mechanisms with Israel and Greece, but also Egypt and Jordan. This cooperation includes areas such as energy, security and defence and maritime cooperation.
Undoubtedly, Cyprus, Israel and the United States are fully aware of the fact that natural gas can become a vehicle for creating a region of unity, peace and stability, fording regional cooperation and synergies and promoting strategic interests.
The discovery of energy reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean also holds the potential of becoming the key to the EU’s energy security, a development which is also in the interests of Washington.
In 2014 both Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry visited Cyprus, acknowledging Cyprus’s role in the region, and proving in concrete terms the strong interest of the Unites States in the region and in the ongoing developments in our efforts to reach a settlement to the Cyprus Problem.
In this regard, I wish to stress in the strongest terms – and count on your assistance in this respect – the eagerness and determination of my Government and mine personally to work closely with the new US administration to further strengthen our strategic partnership in all fields, in a way that it is in the mutual benefit of Cyprus, the United States and Israel.
As I am certain you are well aware, over the last 22 months I have worked tirelessly and in good faith with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to reach a settlement and reunify our country. A settlement that will meet and 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.
My vision is for a reunited Cyprus that will serve as a symbol of peace, coexistence, cultural and religious diversity in the region.
Turkey’s contribution in this regard is the ultimate key to success. The message to Turkey needs to be crystal clear: it is time to end its anachronistic presence on the island, end occupation and withdraw its troops.
A viable reunited Cyprus is in the interests of all parties, including Turkey, which has the chance to claim a diplomatic success and establish a new era of friendship not only with Cyprus but with Greece as well. In effect, a solution will have positive ramifications on EU-Turkey’s relations and the overall security and energy architecture of the EU.
What I would like to stress emphatically is that during these critical moments our side and myself personally, remain committed to finding a viable and functional solution and on continuing the dialogue.
If everyone desires the achievement of the same objective, we have to work with determination and abandon any pretexts, and in particular any unacceptable claims and preconditions that do not serve the interests of Cypriots.
Source: Press and Information Office