Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, welcomed on Monday, 11 December 2023, at the Presidential Palace, the President of Iraq, Dr Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, who paid an official visit to Cyprus.

A tête-à-tête meeting between the two Presidents ensued. The President of the Republic, welcoming his Iraqi counterpart, said, inter alia, “This is a historic visit since it is the first visit by the President of Iraq to Cyprus.”

The President of the Republic added that during the talks with their delegations they would discuss issues related to bilateral relations, such as economy, investment, security, anti-terrorism and issues related to the cooperation of the two countries in international fora.

He highlighted that as the European Union (EU) member state in the region Cyprus is in favour of strengthening the EU's relations with Iraq. Addressing the President of Iraq, the President of the Republic also noted, “Your visit to Cyprus sends the message of your commitment to strengthening the cooperation between our countries.”

On his part, the President of Iraq stated, inter alia, that Iraq is in a very good situation, enjoying security and stability, and strengthening its relations with other countries, adding that it is linked to Cyprus by a common culture and common interests.

Finally, the President of Iraq extended an invitation to President Christodoulides to visit Baghdad, which was accepted.

In his statements to the Media, following the tête-à-tête meeting with the President of Iraq and extended talks with the participation of their respective delegations, the President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, said: “I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to welcome the President of Iraq to Cyprus, especially so soon after assuming my duties.

Today marks the first official visit of an Iraqi President to Cyprus, thus holding significant symbolic and substantial importance. It is an indication of our common will to work for the strengthening of our bilateral relations, as well as for the development of our cooperation on regional and international level.

During today’s meeting, I briefed President Rashid on the Cyprus problem and my unwavering commitment to resume negotiations as soon as possible, aiming for the reunification of Cyprus through a solution in line with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions, and European law, principles, and values.

Cyprus and Iraq are two countries that attach great importance to upholding international law, respecting territorial integrity, unity, and sovereignty of states. I want to publicly express my gratitude for Iraq's longstanding principled stance on the Cyprus problem, including the country's stance within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

I also want to reiterate publicly the full support of the Republic of Cyprus for Iraq’s unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty. Frequent violations of these fundamental principles not only constitute blatant violation of international law but also provoke regional instability.

During our meeting with the President of Iraq, we also reviewed the prospects for expanding our bilateral relations. Among other things, we discussed the need to enhance our cooperation, particularly in economic matters and the promotion of investments. I hope that soon, during the Foreign Minister's visit to Iraq in early 2024, we will be able to sign the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation, which will boost our economic and investment relations.

We also agreed that there is common ground to promote cooperation in education, culture, and the protection of our cultural heritage, such as the repatriation of stolen cultural treasures. Our aim is for this cooperation to flourish both at a contractual level, where negotiations for relevant agreements are already underway, and at a substantial level, both bilaterally and in multilateral fora. We exchanged views on the importance of expanding our cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, areas that are extremely important for our countries, where I believe there is fertile ground for collaboration and sharing experiences and expertise.

As I mentioned to President Rashid, his participation in the 2022 Cyprus’ Climate Change Initiative in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as the adoption of the Action Plan, was a significant step towards regional cooperation in addressing the challenges arising from climate change.

Cyprus and Iraq are both heavily affected by such phenomena, and therefore, we are ready to collaborate with Iraq, as well as with other countries in the region, in promoting bilateral and regional initiatives to address climate challenges.

From our discussions with the President of Iraq, the exchange of views on regional developments was essential. I stressed the importance for Cyprus, and more broadly for the European Union, of a stable and prosperous Iraq in the efforts for promoting peace and stability in the region.

We also discussed the developments in Gaza, both of us deeply affected by what is happening in the Middle East, especially the loss of innocent lives. Cyprus and Iraq are particularly concerned about the new, serious escalation of tension that could have regional implications. We exchanged views on de-escalating this tension.

From the perspective of the Republic of Cyprus, I want to stress our firm belief that the only way to definitively break this cycle of violence, is to restart the peace process to achieve a lasting settlement, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

In conclusion, I would like to welcome, once more, President Rashid to Cyprus. Mr President, I am particularly pleased with today's historic official visit to Cyprus and look forward to this being the beginning of building close ties of cooperation between our countries and our people.”

President of Iraq, Dr Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, speaking through an interpreter, expressed his pleasure in accepting the President's invitation to visit Cyprus, noting that the Republic of Cyprus is a friendly country.

He noted that his visit "can lay the foundation for the further consolidation of a new era in bilateral relations between the two countries. It is an opportunity to express Iraq's will and desire to expand relations with the Republic of Cyprus and we seek to create an appropriate environment for the further development of Cyprus’ public and private sector presence in Iraq, engaging in all economic sectors. Huge potentials and investment opportunities exist in Iraq, and the Government (of Iraq) is willing to open further horizons for cooperation with various friendly countries.”

He added, "Iraq looks forward to establishing strategic partnerships with all friendly countries, including the Republic of Cyprus, to secure common interests through the establishment of respective permanent diplomatic missions; to further strengthen bilateral relations in areas such as economy, trade, culture, considering the huge possibilities between both countries, as well as to unify political views on issues of common interest based on international law and United Nations resolutions.

We strongly condemn the hostilities and the ongoing extermination of the Palestinian people in Gaza and emphasise the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state in all territories. We urge the international community to end these hostilities and provide aid to the people of Gaza.

Finally, we thank you for the warm welcome and we reiterate our invitation for you to visit Iraq.”

Following the statements, the President of the Republic hosted a lunch in honour of the President of Iraq and the members of his delegation.