Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

It is with great pleasure that I welcome to Cyprus my dear friend, the President of Portugal, Mr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Your visit dear Marcelo constitutes a turning point in the relations between our countries, since it is the first ever official visit by a President of the Portuguese Republic to the Republic of Cyprus.

Hence, it reflects the joint commitment we attach to injecting new momentum to our close and fruitful cooperation, both bilaterally and in the EU and other international fora.

During our consultations with President Sousa, we had the opportunity to review the full spectrum of our bilateral relations and to discuss specific ways in which we could explore opportunities for enhancing our cooperation, particularly in the fields of trade, education, investments, economic collaboration and tourism, on which there is untapped potential.

To this end, we both agreed to take specific steps that will advance the interaction between the Cypriot and Portuguese business communities, as well as to forge a closer collaboration between our competent tourism authorities and the private sector with the aim to achieve an increase in peoples’ flows through establishing direct flights between the two countries.

Evident also of our readiness to enhance our institutional framework of our partnership, is the signing today of the Bilateral Agreement on the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information.

With President Sousa we also had the opportunity to touch on major issues on the European agenda, such as the green transition, Europe’s energy security and the current economic situation.

And I cannot stress enough how important is for the Southern countries of the EU to cooperate and support each other to tackle the challenges we are facing. To this end, I believe that our group of dialogue, the MED9, can act as a driving force within the Union by assuming a key role in its future and in advancing our common interests.

During our deliberations, I conveyed to dear Marcelo, that Cyprus supports all measures aiming at strengthening energy autonomy and the security of supply of member-states and of the Union, always taking into account national specificities and industry needs.

At the same time, our decisions should not lead to a situation in which energy companies either redirect their volumes to other countries with high prices or become hesitant to invest in new projects in the EU.

And having talked about new projects, I stressed that Cyprus, due to its excellent relations and long-standing synergies with neighbouring countries, stands ready to assume a significant role and be part of the energy solutions that the Eastern Mediterranean region has to offer with concrete projects.

Two such landmark examples are that of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which provides an ideal platform through which the EU itself can outreach in order to promote its energy agenda, as well as the creation of electricity interconnectors, namely the EuroAsia and EuroAfrica, which can enrich the security of energy supply.

Dear Marcelo your visit is taking place almost eight months after the Russian invasion in Ukraine which continues to create devastating humanitarian, energy and food security crises around the world.

From the very beginning the EU has stood firmly by Ukraine, also unequivocally condemning the recent illegal annexation by Russia of four Ukrainian regions which defy the rules-based international order and are contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter.

And having talked about the violations of international law and the UN Charter, I cannot fail but remind that Cyprus, is also a victim of such violations and still suffers from the 1974 illegal Turkish invasion and the continued occupation of one third of the Republic of Cyprus.

And as we witness, dear Marcelo, as to how the international community responded in a united and decisive way to the injustice and violation of Ukraine’s independence sovereignty and territorial integrity, we expect our partners to demonstrate the same decisiveness and unity enforcing international law on the Cyprus issues and in safeguarding our sovereignty and sovereign rights.

This is all the more applicable following Turkey’s unacceptable position in favor of a two – state solution or its ongoing violations on the sea and at ground.

As I also made clear, I will continue undertaking initiatives to break the current impasse, such as the Confidence Building Measures that I have proposed and which I truly believe, provided that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side positively respond and refrain from raising tensions, can contribute to establishing a conducive environment that will positively support our efforts in resuming the process.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to President Sousa for Portugal’s principled stance and continued support all these years in our efforts to reunify Cyprus and its people.

Mr President, my dear friend Marcelo, please accept once again my sincere appreciation for your visit, which opens a new chapter a new chapter in our relations to the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples.