The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, received today, at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the credentials of the High Commissioner of the Republic of Malta to the Republic of Cyprus, stationed in Athens, Mr Joseph Cuschieri.
Presenting his credentials, High Commissioner Cuschieri said:
It is an honour and a privilege to be here today as High Commissioner of my country to the Republic of Cyprus: a close neighbour and steadfast partner of Malta.
Allow me first, to convey a warm message of best wishes from the President of the Republic of Malta, Her Excellency Marie Louise Coleiro Preca to the President of Cyprus, His Excellency Nicos Anastasiades and the people of Cyprus.
Our two countries can boast of a long standing friendship since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972. It also bears recalling that our ties date back centuries and are very much intrinsic to the history of our shared region – the Mediterranean.
More recently, through our common heritage as Commonwealth states and EU member states, we actively collaborated on various issues in international fora, bringing to the fore our common values. Being close collaborators in the EU’s Mediterranean and Southern dimension is further testimony to this.
The Government of Malta is very satisfied with the frequency and quality of exchanges at the highest levels of representation. We still fondly recall His Excellency The President’s visit and that of Foreign Minister Kasoulides in November 2015 to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in November 2015 as well as the visit of Interior Minister Hasicos to attend the Valletta Summit on Migration that same month.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta, Dr George W. Vella, was himself here in Nicosia in March 2015 for talks with Foreign Minister Kasoulides, which marked a further landmark in the intensification of our relations.
Malta now looks forward to welcoming the Foreign Minister, H.E. Ioannis Kasoulides on an official visit in the weeks ahead. In the past year, bilateral trade rose by Euros 1.7 million to Euros 10.5 million over the previous year. And tourist exchanges keep flourishing as around 4,500 Maltese nationals visited Cyprus last year and 3, 500 Cypriots visited Malta.
People to people exchanges were always strong, as demonstrated by town twinning projects and various cultural projects that took place since. As Valletta prepares to be the European Capital of Culture in 2018, Malta looks forward to augmented artistic cooperation between our countries. Such an important event should above all bring to the fore our shared European values, primarily based on the credentials of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as major pillars upon which dialogue and long lasting peace could take shape and flourish.
We are honoured that Paphos will be participating in a project together with Foundation Valletta 2018 – A Tale of Two Cities. Together with countries in the Euro-Med region, Cyprus will also participate in two initiatives – Roberto Cimetta Fund and Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival.
Allow me now to speak about the Presidency of the Council of the European Union – which Malta will assume as from January 2017. This will be arduous task and the most challenging one we will face since we’ve become full members of the European Union.
It will come at a delicate time for Europe where implementation deficits and political disintegration have had their toll on the EU. In this context, although we will be an ambitious Presidency, we will be realistic.
Our aim is to be targeted in our approach and our efforts will be directed towards delivering success in a six of priority areas. Amongst these, our foremost priority will be the issue of Migration. This is an area which we cannot afford not to give importance and where our citizens are demanding action. Our objective here is to push forward the reform of the Common European Asylum System to ensure that responsibilities are shared evenly amongst the Member States. We would also like to push for measures that have already been agreed to be implemented. This is precisely the reason why we will follow up on the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration with a Senior Officials Meeting in Valletta.
Our immediate neighbourhood and policies related to will also be priorities of our Presidency. This is why we will focus on EU engagement towards the stabilisation of our neighbourhood, with particular focus on Libya.
Our third priority is security. Following the terrorist attacks that have taken place of the last twelve months, we must work to ensure the safety of our citizens. Whilst recognising that the international landscape has become increasingly volatile, we believe that our Presidency can contribute towards achieving concrete progress on proposals that address regional and global challenges.
Another priority is the Internal Market. Our aim is to the build on the progress made so far and to continue to strengthen and develop all the facets of the Internal Market. This will include efforts to complete the Energy Union, the Digital Single Market and the Capital Markets Union.
The last two priorities are maritime and social inclusion. On the first, we would like to promote growth in areas such as maritime tourism and sea freight. On the latter, our aim is to work on legislation in that is already on the table, which will be forthcoming following the consultation on the social pillar and to share best practices (including our positive experiences) with our partners.
Given that one of the overarching priorities of our Presidency will be the Mediterranean and our neighbourhood, the Cyprus reunification issue is being closely monitored. We believe that peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean region is crucial for a safe Europe and that a United Cyprus would be a symbol of peace and cooperation in a troubled region. This will be a breath of fresh air and welcome news.
In this regard, as we have done on numerous occasions before, Malta extends her unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus for the peaceful reunification of the country and her people. This must be based on a fair and just solution that is acceptable to both Cypriot communities.
In our view, it is also essential that all parties remain committed to do their utmost to ensure a positive climate, as only in this way could this process be completed successfully. We encourage all parties to focus on how promising rather than how difficult this process is.
It will bring stability for both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and will also be beneficial for regional cooperation and Europe as a whole, especially if coupled with the implementation of the additional protocol and recognition of Cyprus by Turkey.
In conclusion, I assure Your Excellency, of Malta’s continued commitment to continue building on the remarkable accomplishments registered between our two countries in recent years and further foster the special bond of friendship that binds our peoples.
Thank you Your Excellency.”
Receiving the credentials, the President of the Republic said:
It is with great pleasure that I receive today your Letters of Credence appointing you as the new Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to the Republic of Cyprus as well as the Letters of Recall of your predecessor. ? wish to assure you that my Government will provide every assistance in the performance of your high duties.
Cyprus and Malta, as two Mediterranean island states, share a deep-rooted history of friendly relations. This day provides the opportunity to reaffirm the excellent level of our bilateral relations based on our common values, mutual concerns and shared interests. In this framework, I wish to express my satisfaction for the existing comprehensive and close cooperation between Cyprus and Malta in various fields, both bilaterally as within the EU and other international fora, to the benefit of our peoples and to the benefit of peace, stability and prosperity in our region and in Europe.
Furthermore, Cyprus fully shares the priorities of the coming Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in 2017, and looks forward for a constructive cooperation in this regard. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish the Maltese Government every success as you finalise preparations for this important challenge.
Almost four years ago, just after my election as President of the Republic of Cyprus, this country was faced with nothing less than economic collapse. Today, Cyprus can be justifiably projected as a success story of economic reform. With the determination of my government, the resilience of key productive sectors of the economy and the sacrifice and hard work of the Cypriot people, we have achieved:
to address fiscal imbalances, through growth-friendly consolidation,
to have a restructured and fully recapitalized banking sector, mainly through big international investors,
to undertake and implement radical structural reforms,
to return to the international markets much earlier than any other programme country,
to restore our credibility and regain confidence in the Cypriot economy.
Our ambitious reform agenda aspires to lay the foundations for long-term sustainable growth, improving the business environment which will increasingly attract foreign direct investments in the productive sectors of the economy. Towards this direction, there is a continuing process to modernise and reform the current tax and legal framework, while the effort to reform the public service and modernize our legislation continues, with additional measures underway such as accelerated licensing procedures, updated permanent residency and citizenship programmes, the introduction of e-government and sector-related incentive schemes. Our reform agenda is aiming to eventually transform our economic model, to enhance our competitive edge and to attract foreign direct investments in order to achieve sustained growth and prosperity for all Cypriots.
As regards the ongoing negotiating process to reach a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem, since May 2015 when the two sides resumed negotiations significant convergences have been achieved on an important number of issues related to the chapters of Governance and Power-Sharing, Economy, the EU and to a lesser extent Property.
To this end, on 26 October, 2016, and following a number of intensive negotiating phases, it was assessed that the progress observed allowed the two sides to proceed with the next phase of the negotiating process in November and at Mont PAlerin of Switzerland.
A phase which consisted of the following hierarchical steps:
Reaching an agreement on criteria that should be applied as regards territorial adjustments.
Presenting maps which would accurately reflect the said criteria.
Following such an overall agreement on territory, setting the date for holding the next phase of the negotiating process: an enlarged meeting or multilateral Conference to discuss the Chapter of Security and Guarantees.
In parallel, the two sides would intensify their discussions with the aim of closing the vast majority of pending issues in the remaining Chapters, as well as on other aspects related to the implementation of the settlement, among others, the Day 1 and what it would entail and the economic dimensions, in particular those related with the banking sector of the Turkish Cypriot community and the assessment of the costs, including compensation and reinstatement costs.
Unfortunately, and despite the constructive stance and the compromising proposals put forward by the Greek Cypriot side in order to facilitate discussions and reach a positive outcome, the two sessions held at Mont PAlerin on 7-11 and 20-21 November did not yield the desired outcome.
In this respect, I wish to, yet again, reiterate that I remain ready and committed not only to continue the process based on the 26th October understanding between the two leaders and from the point we left negotiations at Mont PAlerin, but to also further intensify our dialogue with the aim to achieve further convergences on most of the outstanding differences on all the Chapters already discussed.
At the same time, I wish to reassure that I remain wholeheartedly committed and determined to achieve the goal of reaching a settlement and reunifying our country, so as to fulfil the vision of the people of Cyprus and build an attractive future for our youth and the generations to come, setting an example for peace-making and enhancing security and stability in our region.
A settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions, the High Level Agreements and the Joint Declaration of February 2014, with a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship.
A settlement that will:
Reunite our country, its people, the economy and institutions;
Create a win-win situation for all Cypriots, taking into account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities;
Ensure a modern member-state of the EU and UN, enjoying full sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity;
Restore and fully respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its lawful citizens;
Rid Cyprus of third country military troops or guarantees, an anachronism in today’s World.
To this end, Turkey’s contribution in tangible terms in these negotiations is vital. There is no solution that can be reached without Turkey’s input. We do therefore expect Turkey, which is responsible for the illegal stationing of more than 40,000 occupation troops in Cyprus, to take practical and concrete steps towards this direction, taking into account not only the benefit of the people of Cyprus but also the positive impact a settlement will have to regional stability and cooperation.
In welcoming you to Cyprus, I would request you to convey to Her Excellency, Mrs Marie Louise Coleiro-Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, my warmest greetings and best wishes for health and prosperity. I conclude by assuring you once more of the support of my Government to your valuable mission, so that your tenure will be highly constructive and fruitful, and carried out in such a way that the sound relationship that Cyprus enjoys with Malta will further flourish.”
Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, the Head of Presidency at the Presidential Palace, Mr Kypros Kyprianou, and the Chief of Protocol, Mr Marios Kountourides.
Source: Press and Information Office