Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, met on Wednesday, 13 April 2022, at the Presidential Palace with the Chancellor of Austria, Mr Karl Nehammer.

Following the official welcoming ceremony, during which a military guard paid honors, the National Anthems of the two countries were performed and the Chancellor laid a wreath at the Monument of Archbishop Makarios III.

The President and the Austrian Chancellor held a private meeting, during which the President gave Mr Nehammer the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III and the Chancellor gave the President, on behalf of the President of Austria, the Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria.

After their private meeting, the President and the Chancellor made remarks to the Media.

In his remarks, President Anastasiades said the following:

«It is with great pleasure that I welcome to Cyprus the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, my dear friend Karl Nehammer.

Dear Chancellor Karl,

Your visit today constitutes another important milestone in the relations of our countries, as it coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cyprus and Austria.

During these years we have enjoyed the continuous upgrading of our relationship, as evident by the numerous agreements we have concluded in a wide range of areas which form the institutional framework of our bilateral partnership.

At the same time, our contacts at the highest level reflect the significance that both countries attach to the further deepening of our relations, at a bilateral level as well as within the context of the European Union and other international fora.

In this context, I am pleased to note, dear friends, that my meeting with Chancellor Nehammer was held in a truly frank manner and constructive manner, confirming our common desire to further advance our mutually beneficial cooperation.

During our deliberations, we had the opportunity to review the full spectrum of our bilateral partnership and identify synergies to upgrade the positive momentum, with more emphasis being placed in our Defence cooperation, Trade, Tourism, Research and Development, as well as Energy efficiency and promotion of the use of Renewable Energy Sources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As it was expected, a large part of our discussions was dedicated to the catastrophic war in Ukraine and the subsequent humanitarian, energy and food security crises that is causing.

From the very first moment, the EU and its member - states have demonstrated our unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and we have consistently supported Ukraine in political, diplomatic, financial and technical matters.

At the same time, we remain focused in utilizing every diplomatic mean at our disposal in order to exert more pressure on Russia to end hostilities and engage in a constructive dialogue that will lead to a ceasefire agreement.

And having referred to the energy crisis we are facing, Chancellor Karl and I agreed on the necessity to increase EU energy independence and in this regard, I had the opportunity to inform of numerous regional initiatives and synergies, including interconnectivity projects, that we strongly believe can contribute to this end.

The Chancellor and I also had a productive exchange on issues high on our EU agenda, such as Migration, the EU security and defence role, climate change, as well as the situation in Western Balkans and the Middle East.

On the last point, Chancellor Nehammer is currently on a mini tour in the Middle East, having just arrived from Israel and traveling tomorrow morning to Lebanon. In this respect, I was informed of his deliberations, whilst in parallel I had the opportunity to brief him on our successful models of regional cooperation that we have established together with Greece that yield tangible results for the benefit of our people and the wider region.

I also elaborated on the setting up of the relevant Secretariat for the trilateral cooperation mechanisms in Nicosia, which will serve as a permanent structure of coordination among the neighbouring countries, thus facilitating their further development and expansion.

As regards Balkans and following the recent decision of the Council on Ukraine and Moldova, Chancellor Karl and I shared the view that this region, historically and geographically, is part of Europe, and the process of the EU enlargement can only continue with this in mind, provided, of course, that the interested countries adhere to the obligations arising from any future accession negotiations.

Lastly, on the issue of migration, I stressed the need to Chancellor Nehammer on finding the right balance between responsibility and solidarity, both in terms of returns and relocations.

I am aware that Austria is facing a real problem as we are facing. I will give you an example to better understand the magnitude of the problem we are facing. In 2021 Cyprus recorded the highest number of first – time asylum seekers, with 14.800 applicants per million residents, whilst the EU average is 1.200 per million. 5% of our population is asylum seekers and all these people are encouraged by Turkey.

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to inform the Chancellor on the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem and the problems we are facing due to the intransigent stance of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, unfortunately, either through illegal acts on the ground and the sea or aspirations for a settlement that deviate the long-established basis of a settlement.

I also informed Chancellor Karl of our constant initiatives to resume the process, with the latest example being the submission of bold Confidence Building which, unfortunately, the Turkish Cypriot side immediately rejected without even examining their merits.

Nonetheless, as I conveyed to the Chancellor, our side, as has proven time after time, remains committed and will continue its utmost efforts in order to reach a settlement that will ensure that Cyprus will remain a functional and effective EU member-state, free from foreign dependencies, foreign troops and rights of intervention by third countries.

In this context, I cannot stress enough how much Cyprus continues to rely upon the support of the European Union and its member-states in our efforts to reunify our country and in this regard, I would like to express my personal gratitude to Chancellor Nehammer for Austria’s principled stance and support in our efforts to reach a lasting and functional settlement.

I would also be remiss not to mention that since 1964 Austria has been a troop contributor to UNFICYP. For Cyprus this is a true act of solidarity for which we are grateful, while, at the same time, highlights the importance Austria attaches to the preservation of international law and peace globally.

Dear Karl, in welcoming you once again to Cyprus, I would like to thank you for your visit which gave us the opportunity to reaffirm our joint commitment to further promote the friendship and enduring ties between Cyprus and Austria for the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples.»

On his part Chancellor Nehammer said, among other things, that the relations between Austria and Cyprus are very strong.

He added that «let me also be clear. We fully support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus, in particular regarding its sea waters.

I also visited today the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus to which Austria has been providing troops since the start of the Mission in 1964 and in 1974, three of them tragically lost their lives.

Cyprus is like Austria, very much affected by illegal migration, so we have to stand together, we have to see that the asylum system of the EU failed and we need a new one, an effective one. We shouldn’t talk already about it, we should do it.»

He also referred to the food crises, noting that Egypt is facing a serious problem and needs help.

He noted that he will visit Lebanon tomorrow, a country with a refugee problem, needing help in providing food for them.

After the remarks to the Media, the President hosted a dinner in honor of the Chancellor of Austria.