Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

It is with great pleasure that I have welcomed in Cyprus the President of the State of Israel, my good friend, His Excellency Mr Isaac Herzog.

Dear Isaac, you are no stranger to our country. Quite the opposite, you have been to Cyprus too many times to count. However, today’s visit is indeed special since it is the first time to be receiving you in your capacity as the President of the State of Israel.

Our meeting was held in the shadow of the dramatic events in Ukraine and as it was expected a large part of our discussions was dedicated to what we are witnessing unfolding in the country.

I must say that, as Cypriots, we relate very closely to the plight of the Ukrainian people; we, ourselves, have been victims and are still suffering from the tragic consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

As such, it goes without saying that we have joined our voice with that of our partners in the EU and beyond in condemning the Russian invasion and in taking steps for assisting the Ukrainian people in these critical moments.

We both agree, dear President, that the current crisis will have grave repercussions globally, as we both agree that it can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomatic means.

With President Herzog we had the opportunity to discuss our bilateral relationship and the prospect of further strengthening it.

I am particularly pleased to note that the excellent relations on the political sphere are also mirrored in the robust cooperation between our respective business and scientific communities, and, even more importantly, in ever increasing the people-to-people contacts.

During our deliberations, we have had the chance to also review the latest developments as regards our energy cooperation. The fact that the war in Ukraine greatly impacts the energy supply and its prices, reinforces even more the argument and the belief that the EU needs diversified and stable energy supplies to guarantee its energy security.

In this regard, we are convinced that the Eastern Mediterranean, of which our countries are integral part, can prove highly beneficial to the EU’s energy security, providing alternative routes and also cleaner energy sources.

Cyprus and Israel participate in projects that fit very well into this discourse. The East Med Pipeline, if proven technically and financially viable, can provide gas and hydrogen, thus diversifying European supply routes and adapting to various needs of the market. In addition, tthe EuroAsia Interconnector, with its practical significance and its strategic value in promoting cross border energy cooperation, has attracted the strong support of the EU, with the European Commission recently approving significant part of its financing.

Another central component of our discussions was a matter that is truly global: The ongoing climate crisis. In this regard, I conveyed to President Herzog my appreciation for Israel’s active support for the Cyprus’ Climate Initiative for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

To this end, I have heard with interest President Herzog’s views on the importance of taking urgent action for fostering reliable, complementary partnerships in our region, always in accordance with international law.

With President Herzog we also exchanged views on the way forward of our trilateral cooperation mechanism with Greece.

We have expressed our satisfaction for the way this cooperation is advancing, covering a wide array of sectors, in which all three partners pool their comparative advantages for the common benefit.

A cooperation based on our common assessment that the increasing and ever-changing challenges the international order and our own region are facing can only be navigated through dialogue and adherence to international law.

This view is shared more widely, as showcased by the readiness of the United States to engage in an extended form of our Trilateral, as a 3-plus-1 format.

I also had the opportunity to inform President Herzog on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue.

In this context, I have elaborated on our numerous and persistent efforts, including the proposed confidence building measures, to resume a meaningful and result-oriented negotiation process.

Unfortunately, these are met both by claims from Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership for a two-state solution that run contrary to the agreed basis of the settlement and by unilateral and illegal actions on the ground and at sea which run contrary to international law and the UN Security – Council Resolutions.

In this regard, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to President Herzog for Israel’s principled position on the Cyprus issue and for his personal interest and commitment in our efforts to reunify Cyprus and its people.

At the same time, as it is understandable dear Isaac, it remains vital that all stakeholders involved will work constructively towards the creation of the necessary conditions for results-oriented negotiations to take place and I express my appreciation that you will convey our messages during your upcoming visit to Turkey.

It is an honour to have a true friend of Cyprus at the highest office of our strategic partner. This proves the historic links between our peoples and countries and at the same time cements the steady evolution of our future relationship.

Once more, dear Isaac, I wish to express my pleasure for welcoming you to Cyprus and I am confident that our substantial exchanges will continue in the near future.

On a more personal note, I am looking forward to meeting with you and Michal in your usual summer holiday spot.