The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, received today, at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the credentials of the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Cyprus, Ms. Mai Taha Mohammed Khalil.
Presenting her credentials, the new Ambassador of Egypt said:
“Your Excellency Mr Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus
I have the honor to present to you the letter of recall of my predecessor, as well as my letter of credentials, by which His Excellency Mr Abdulfattah El-Sissi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, informs you of my appointment as the new Ambassador of Egypt to the Republic of Cyprus.
I would like to seize this opportunity to convey to you the sincerest greetings and best wishes of President El-Sissi.
I assume my duties with great sense of pride and responsibility. In just a few days, we will be having the first bilateral visit of an Egyptian President to Cyprus and the second for President El-Sissi. Such historical moment highlights not only the deep rooted historical ties between the two countries, but also its developing and evolving nature.
The proximity between the two countries nurtured strong bonds that are based on common values and a shared culture. My immediate first impression, when I arrived to this country, is that people are warm and welcoming and that the island feels as the northern shores of Egypt and its inhabitants. It is always good to feel at home.
I am hoping that this sense of familiarity and the openness of fellow Cypriots will enable me to accomplish what my Government entrusted me to do in all key issues and to promote further the relationship between Egypt and Cyprus.
In the past few years, particularly after 30th June 2013 revolution, the dynamics of the relationship between Egypt and Cyprus have changed dramatically. We highly appreciate the support and understanding given to us by the Cypriot government during the passing time. New windows of opportunities have been opened in all fields especially cooperation in the areas Of Energy, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Defence. I am hoping that I can, throughout my tenure, backed by the momentum created by the strong political will shown by Your Excellency and that of President El-Sissi, can achieve new milestones that further deepen the ties between Egypt and Cyprus.
Let me assure you Excellency that Egypt firmly believes in the possibility of solving the Cyprus issue, on the basis of the principles of International law, relevant United Nations resolutions and respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus. Egypt spares no effort in every forum to express its solidarity with the Cypriot government in its quest for peaceful settlement of the dispute.
I am hoping, just like my predecessors, that I will gain your trust and support during my service here. Let me reiterate to you, my utmost honour and happiness that I will be serving my country here and that I am eagerly looking forward to engage with all the relevant authorities and with our brothers and sisters in Cyprus to promote the relations between our two great nations.
Receiving the credentials, the President of the Republic said:
It is with great pleasure and feelings of true friendship that I receive the Letters of Credence appointing you as the new Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Cyprus.
Please be assured that my Government and I personally will provide you with every assistance in the performance of your high duties.
Your arrival in Cyprus is very timely. The level of maturity of the historic and excellent relations between Cyprus and Egypt is unprecedented.
Our two countries share a long-standing partnership at all levels and in many fields, based on concrete and deeply-entrenched historical and political ties. A partnership greatly valued by the Government and the people of Cyprus and one that we actively aim to qualitatively upgrade to new levels.
The people of Cyprus and I personally are very much looking forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on 20 November 2017. This official visit of His Excellency, President Sisi, will allow us both to take stock and promote further our bilateral cooperation, both in existing and new fields.
I will briefly mention a few recent examples of our close cooperation. Acting in a spirit of partnership in order to strengthen security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, our two countries have recently agreed on specific programmes of military cooperation for the years 2017-2018. Furthermore, I would also like to specifically refer to the informed decision our two countries have taken in the field of energy, notably to physically connect our two countries with a subsea natural gas pipeline from the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus to Egypt.
Cyprus has always been an avid proponent of the position that Egypt remains a source of stability and an important partner for the European Union. In this regard, I take this opportunity to welcome the holding of the 7th EU-Egypt Association Council on 25 July 2017 and the adoption of the jointly negotiated EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities that pave the way for a reinforced, mutually beneficial partnership between the EU and Egypt leading towards a stronger strategic engagement in areas of common interest.
Cyprus remains a partner Egypt can rely on. We stand ready to continue our cooperation with Egypt to intensify efforts to tackle regional challenges, to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, increase information sharing and promote regional security.
At the same time, Egypt remains a trusted partner of Cyprus and of the EU. As such, the importance of the role and stability of Egypt to the broader geopolitical situation in our immediate region and of Europe in general, is undeniable. In this respect, I commend Egypt’s role, which was instrumental in the conclusion of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo on 12 October 2017, in the context of the intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
The shared desire of Cyprus and Egypt to promote peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean through, inter alia, regional cooperation, is also manifested in the Tripartite Summit between Cyprus-Egypt-Greece, the fifth round of which will take place in Cyprus on 21 November 2017. This tripartite cooperation is based on respect of international law and of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including commitment to friendly relations, international peace and security, respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States, to face their common challenges and to promote peace and cooperation among the States of the region.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to reiterate our deep appreciation for the strong support of the Government of Egypt to our efforts to end the unacceptable status quo and reunite our country and its people, in line with the relevant UN Council Resolutions, the EU values and principles, the High-Level Agreements between the leaders of the two communities and the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014.
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for its active role and resolute engagement in the deliberations concerning Cyprus, both currently as a non-member of the UN Security Council, but also at the meetings of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, concerning the resolution on the “Situation in Cyprus”. The principled position of your Government strongly supports our continuous efforts to reach a just, viable and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
On my behalf, I would like to underline once again our unwavering determination to end the division of the island and our commitment to exert every effort to reach a comprehensive settlement. We deeply regret that Turkey’s unwillingness to negotiate within the framework set by the UN Secretary-General, and in particular Turkey’s intransigent stance on the key Chapters of Security and Guarantees and its insistence on maintaining guarantees, troops and intervention rights in reunited Cyprus, did not allow for a positive outcome to be reached during the Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana, Switzerland, this past July.
It is well-known that the Conference on Cyprus was the result of the agreement of 4 June 2017, where the UN Secretary-General, Mr Αntοniο Guterres, stressed and publicly recognised that the Chapter of Security and Guarantees constitutes an essential element in reaching an overall agreement on the Cyprus problem. On 30 June, following consultations with all stakeholders, Mr Guterres set the framework within which the negotiations should proceed for progress to be achieved on six thematic topics, including on the Chapter of Security and Guarantees and the issue of foreign troops.
Acting within the framework of the UN Secretary-General, the Greek Cypriot side submitted comprehensive proposals on all six thematic areas identified. Regrettably, the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side submitted proposals, which were not only contrary to the ideas set by the UN, but also contravened EU law and the Charter of the United Nations.
Unfortunately, on 6 July 2017 the Turkish side rejected UN Secretary-General’s proposal for issuing a Press statement which would in fact record, among other, the parties’ commitment on abolishing the current system of security and guarantees and the termination of the so-called rights of intervention. Instead, the Turkish Foreign Minister repeated Turkey’s traditional positions on maintaining a system of security and guarantees and a permanent presence of troops in reunited Cyprus. Moreover, contrary to the UN framework on territorial adjustments, Turkey steadfastly refused to address Greek Cypriot concerns.
It is deeply disappointing that at a critical point in the process, when Turkey was called to prove in a tangible manner its rhetoric that it is committed to a solution, it merely repeated its well-known unacceptable positions. We therefore hope that Turkey will revisit its intransigent positions, particularly in the areas of security and guarantees, and as regards demands that are not in line with Cyprus’ capacity as a member state of the EU, so as to create sound prospects of achieving an overall agreement.
I would like to convey in the clearest terms that we are strongly committed to negotiate a solution within the parameters that the Secretary-General set, for a viable comprehensive settlement fully in line with European and international law that reunites Cyprus in a truly independent and sovereign state, free of any third country dependencies that will offer the prospect of prosperity and peaceful co-existence for all its citizens.
At the time of my election as President of the Republic of Cyprus, this country was on the verge of financial collapse, a consequence of the short-sighted policies of the past. Today, we can proudly –once more- connect Cyprus to growth and potential: we are on the right track since our economy has achieved a strong and sustainable recovery, currently with a GDP growth rate of 3.5%. Our plan has been to continuously improve the country’s business environment, so as to reinforce the position of Cyprus as a competitive, innovative, stable and fully transparent destination for business and investment.
In this respect, we have recognised the importance of maintaining sound public finances, of preserving a stable and competitive tax regime and of providing incentives for new business and investment. We have promoted significant reforms in the welfare system, the health care system, the management of public finances, in tax administration and, most importantly, in the banking sector. We have also been actively promoting new investment opportunities.
Despite the economic difficulties that we have faced, our country’s comparative advantages not only remain intact, but have been further enhanced and expanded, setting them apart from most investment destinations. Cyprus continues to be a highly competitive centre for international businesses, offering a platform for operations and preferential access to markets like Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
We are now focusing on attracting investors in the productive sectors of the economy and our effort has been delivering results: Foreign Direct Investment has witnessed a 9.1% rise in 2016, compared to the previous year, which was the second largest increase at EU level. This is my Government’s most important priority, following the restoration of the state’s and the financial system’s credibility. The majority of economic sectors in Cyprus present growth opportunities: Energy, Tourism, Shipping, Real Estate, Education, Health, Transport, Research and Innovation.
We are striving towards making Cyprus a world class destination for business and investment. This is how we shall continue to create jobs, opportunities and prosperity for our people: this is precisely the ambition and commitment of my government.
I welcome you to Cyprus, and wish you every success in the performance of your high duties. I would be grateful if you could convey to the President, His Excellency Mr Abdulfattah El-Sissi, and the people of the Arab Republic of Egypt both my own warmest wishes, as well as those of the people of Cyprus for peace and prosperity.