Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, who paid an official visit to the Vatican, was officially welcomed on Monday, 24 October 2022, at the Apostolic Palace in the Holy See where he had a meeting with Pope Francis.

In statements to reporters, after his meeting with Pope Francis I and the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the President of the Republic said "it’s a great honour to meet with His Holiness the Pope, with whom we have had a very constructive meeting.”

During the meeting we discussed the excellent relations between us. I expressed my gratitude for the decision to establish an Embassy of the Vatican in Cyprus, as well as the seat of Vicar of the Latin Church of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Cyprus, and at the same time, I conveyed the deep appreciation of the Cypriot people and my own, of course, for the Holy See’s principled support in reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem, and the great interest that His Holiness shows in migration issues. I thanked him for taking the first initiative to accept immigrants from Cyprus.

We discussed on the challenges we are faced with as regards the Cyprus problem and the constantly worsening situation as a result of Turkey’s actions. Furthermore, we conversed on the issue of missing persons, a sensitive humanitarian issue that is of particular interest to the Pope, on climate change and in particular on the latest developments in Lebanon, a region of great concern to the Papal Church, and on the suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

I had the pleasure of being informed that as a result of the creative, as he said, efforts I have made to improve relations between our two countries, I am awarded with the highest medal, the Grand Collar of the Order of Pope Pius the 9th, which as he himself said, is granted in exceptional cases.

This is an honour for me, but also for Cyprus.

I then had a meeting with the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin and the Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations Archbishop Gallagher, with whom we had an extensive exchange of views on the aforementioned issues, namely the Cyprus problem, the concerns of the Maronite community, the issue of missing persons, the Turkish violations, the war in Ukraine, the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East, the problems humanity is faced with as a result of climate change and, in general, on the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations”.

He added that “I have informed of the decision of the Cypriot Government to proceed with an international agreement granting a long-term lease of state land for the construction of the Embassy of the Holy See.”

Asked if he has bid farewell to Pope Francis due to the imminent end of his term, the President of the Republic said he had created "a particularly humane relationship with the Pope. Therefore, I said goodbye to him as President, but I didn't say goodbye to him as a friend.”

It should be noted that during his meeting with Pope Francis, the President of the Republic offered him a silver copy of a 4th century B.C. kylix as a commemorative gift, as well as the symbolic sum of 10 thousand euros: five thousand euros to support a fund for deprived persons in order to demonstrate the appreciation of the Republic of Cyprus for the sacred work carried out by the Holy See and five thousand euros to support the fund of the Community of Sant’Egidio for its contribution in alleviating the migration problem. For his part, Pope Francis offered books of the Holy See to the President of the Republic.