Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

At a special ceremony held on Wednesday, 9 November 2022, at the Presidential Residence, in Jerusalem, the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Honor by the President of Israel Mr Herzog.

The Medal of Honor was bestowed upon the President, according to the relevant decision by the Presidency of Israel, «for being an ally and a true friend to the state of Israel, for his contribution to the great friendship between Cyprus and Israel and for his key role in the establishment and development of the trilateral relationship between Israel, Cyprus and Greece which is a strategic anchor of stability in the Mediterranean basin.»

Speaking at the ceremony, President Anastasiades said that «Being bestowed upon the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor evokes intense feelings and emotions.

Please accept, dear Isaac, the sincere gratitude both mine and that the people of the Republic of Cyprus to whom I owe today’s highest honor. An honor which I humbly accept as the sincere recognition and appreciation to the tireless efforts I have exerted to further advance our relationship, which we can now proudly call as strategic.

Mr. President: Today’s ceremony reminds me of your official visit to Cyprus last March, during which I had the pleasure to bestow upon Your Excellency the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios the Third, in recognition of your family’s strong links to Cyprus, your long-standing conviction in the Cyprus – Israeli friendship and your remarkable contribution to this end.

I consider these two occasions, Mr. President, to be no coincidences. They are shining examples of the unbreakable links between our countries and peoples and of our commitment to see them grow from strength to strength.

Experiencing this relationship flourishing has been for me personally a conviction of the heart. Needless to remind that my first official visit to a third country when I assumed office was in Jerusalem in May 2013 and ever since I have personally invested significant political capital in cultivating our ties.

Our partnership is manifested by tangible projects, be it in defence and emergency response to energy, in innovation to culture, and in healthcare to diaspora. On diaspora in particular, your personal contribution Mr. President, as former Chair of the Jewish Agency, was nothing less than critical and for that we sincerely thank you.

Our countries have also successfully embarked in joint projects on a bilateral and trilateral format with Greece, and more diversely, with synergies in the 3+1 context with the US.

Likewise, we identified the possibility of including other countries of our neighborhood in our cooperation, countries that share our common vision that peace, stability and security is the most valuable strategic asset. And this is not a cliché. I have always believed in that vision and I know, my dear Isaac, that you fully share this conviction.

In this regard, I am particularly pleased to witness that the historic Abraham Accords, fueled by Israel’s wish to build warm peace with its neighbors, are advancing a new era of regional multilateralism that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Cyprus and Israel participate in projects that fit very well into this premise. The emblematic project of the EuroAsia Interconnector, of which the inauguration we marked in Cyprus less than a month ago, the MoU between the EU, Israel and Egypt on natural gas supply, and our joint participation in the EMGF are significant cases in point.

Another brilliant case in favour on regional cooperation is, of course, the signature of the agreement to settle the maritime boundary between Israel and Lebanon. This historic agreement, for which I warmly congratulate you, demonstrates what can be achieved with constructive engagement, dialogue and diplomacy.

Mr. President, it is my strong belief and standard position that relations between countries are not a zero-sum game. We know that Israel shares this view.

Our strategic relationship is neither conditioned by, nor conditional from relations that each of us may have with third countries. On the contrary, it is a relationship with distinct strategic depth to the benefit of regional cooperation.

I’m obliged to be explicit on this point since Turkey continues to act contrary to international law and consequently obstructing the regional synergies I have already referred to. All we witness is an escalation of revisionism and of aggressive posturing.

This is all the more unfortunate since our regional cooperation nexus is neither exclusionary, nor exclusive. It is not directed against any country, provided of course that the rules-based order and the rights of all involved states are duly respected. This is paramount.

I have never stopped hoping that Turkey will finally adopt a more realistic and constructive approach and acknowledge the overwhelming benefit of becoming part of our regional cooperation agenda by positively working towards a viable solution that will reunify Cyprus and its people and project regional stability.

And I wish to assure you that we will continue to engage constructively for the reunification of our island in accordance with the UN Charter, the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the EU acquis. I am certain that we can count on our friends and partners for support and advocacy.

Likewise, let me reaffirm Cyprus’ sincere wish for direct and meaningful negotiations to resume between Israel and the Palestinian side that will lead to a viable two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters and in full respect of Israel’s security.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: I am deeply moved to be receiving the Medal of honour awarded to me today. I humbly accept it as a distinguished honour to the country and people that I represent, and as a crystal-clear endorsement of the robust friendship and the ever-growing relationship between Cyprus and Israel.

Once again, I thank you dear Isaac and I feel uniquely privileged to be able to call and count on you as a true friend.»

On his part President Herzog said, among other things, that President Anastasiades has played a paramount role in advancing a new spirit of unity, as I have seen with my own eyes at the COP27 and I have heard about your incredible conference yesterday, and you have opened new avenues for partnership.

He said «this spirit of cooperation has expanded to new forms and frameworks. From your critical climate change initiative to EastMed gas forum, from the recent inauguration of the EurAsia interconnector which will supply electricity to Cyprus and from then to Europe, to the four-way dialogue that we launched in Pafos with our Emirati partners not to mention the cooperation we built in combating fires and other natural disasters, the core of this new Mediterranean reality is based upon a great bilateral relationship which included a trilateral alliance together with Greece, a pillar for Mediterranean stability and a key to a sustainable and prosperous future.»

Addressing the President of the Republic, President Herzog said «you are a true democrat and a great leader whose power emanates from your deep courage,» and noted President Anastasiades’ integrity and decency.

He added that the Medal of Honor is the highest honor awarded by Israel, adding that it was previously also bestowed upon the US President Joe Biden.

After the ceremony, President Herzog and his spouse hosted an official luncheon in honor of the President of the Republic and his spouse Ms Andri Anastasiades.