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16 June, 2024
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Cyprus and Estonia pledge deeper ties across borders

The two presidents embrace partnership beyond borders

Newsroom / CNA

The similarities between Cyprus and Estonia, despite their geographical distance, noted on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides, and his Estonian counterpart, Alar Karis, after their meeting at the Presidential Palace, as well as their agreement to further deepen cooperation at all levels by exploring new areas such as investment, cyber security and maritime affairs.

In their statements after their private meeting and the extended consultations with the participation of the members of the delegations of the two countries, President Christodoulides said that the understanding and cooperation between Cyprus and Estonia were “stronger than ever before.”

He also said that he was looking forward to reciprocate the visit of the Estonian President, who arrived to Cyprus accompanied by a business delegation, to go to Talin with a Cypriot business delegation in order to create the conditions for cooperation between the two countries’ business people.

President Karis, expressed his “joy” to be in Nicosia the year when both Estonia and Cyprus celebrate their 20th anniversary of joining the European Union family. “This visit highlights the depth of our partnership with Cyprus and our wish to further nurture our friendly relations”, he said.

As regards his country’s stand on the reunification of Cyprus, he said that they “fully support” a reunification based on bicommunal, bizonal federation in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. “We must all do our part to support achieving this”, he said.

The Estonian President also said that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire and that his country “highly” valued all the effort Cyprus has taken to open a humanitarian corridor, the Amalthea Initiative, “to deliver much needed additional assistance by sea”.

In his statements, President Christodoulides, said that, despite the geographical distance that separates the two countries Cyprus and Estonia were similar in more ways than meet the eye, noting that they were both “small and resilient countries located on different edges of Europe”, adding that they also share the same set of values, the constant pursuit for peace and unwavering commitment to the principles of the international law.

He said that they discussed bilateral relations, European affairs, global and regional developments, as well as the Cyprus issue.

On bilateral relations, President Christodoulides said that he was “very pleased to attest that the understanding and cooperation between Cyprus and Estonia across the board is stronger than ever before.” He also welcomed that President Karis was accompanied “by a sizeable business delegation”, the members of which would have the opportunity later within the day to engage with their Cypriot counterparts in a forum, hosted by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He also noted Estonia’s “excellence” in digital transformation and e-governance. “We have much to learn and gain from Estonia's example in our effort to enhance our own digital governance services, building also on the relevant memorandum of understanding that was signed in Tallinn‎‎ in 2022”, he said.

The situation in Ukraine was an important part of their discussions, President Christodoulides said, adding that they reiterated that illegality cannot and must not be allowed to prevail. “We have an obligation to secure and safeguard Ukraine's future as a sovereign, free and prosperous nation, principles that should be defended in every instance and without any exception”, he said.

He said that they also discussed the unfolding crisis in the Middle East, and that they agreed on the need for urgent de-escalation and relaunch of the results-oriented political horizon based on the agreed UN framework for a two-state solution. He also stressed the need for the European Union to play a leading role in these developments in cooperation with its partners.

“The Republic of Cyprus, the EU member state closer to the region, having excellent relations with all neighbouring countries, is working towards the creation of conditions of stability and security”, he said, adding that it was in this context that he had the opportunity to update Karis on the latest developments of the Amalthea Plan, the Cyprus maritime corridor aiming to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

“I reiterate that this initiative, which has garnered support from many countries and international organisations does not aim to substitute and it is supplementary to other efforts to deliver human assistance for those in need”, he said.

President Christodoulides also said that they discussed the Cyprus problem, as 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the illegal 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the ongoing military occupation of almost 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.

He said that he reassured the Estonian President that his vision from the very first day he assumed his duties as President of the Republic was to put an end to this half century of occupation, and to reunify Cyprus so that all Cypriots can aspire a brighter, common future together while he underlined the importance of a more active role of the EU towards these efforts.

The Estonian President said, among other things, that the fact that a business delegation also joined him in this visit was a testament of strong interest in forging economic cooperation.

He also said that Estonia has expressed their readiness to provide their know-how on the digitalisation of Cyprus’ public administration.

The Estonian President referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine, he said this was “an aggression against all the principles we value”, and that it was important that “we continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine, providing all the help we can”. He also said that he “deeply” appreciated the understanding and support extended by Cyprus to Ukraine.

The Estonian President also referred to the migration issue and reaffirmed Estonia’s “full support”, for Cyprus as a frontline EU member state facing migration challenges. Estonia, he said, has actively contributed expertise and resources to EU external border protection through FRONTEX missions including in Cyprus.

Asked by a journalist if EU countries should discuss a more dynamic role, regarding the war in Ukraine, and also if it was time for the EU to assume a more active role as regards Middle East, President Christodoulides said that "Cyprus from the very beginning was on the right side of history."

He said that the EU should use all means available in order to face, Russian aggression, noting that, the bloc also needed the support of other, international partners in order to face the situation in Ukraine. Regarding the situation in Gaza, he said that Cyprus was trying its best in order to face the humanitarian challenges in Gaza, but that it wanted to see much more EU involvement in the region.

He recalled that European Commission President’s visit some two weeks to Egypt, which he said, was a “clear sign of EU involvement in the region”, and expressed hope that, soon “we'll be in a position to visit the other countries of the region”, together with the President of the Commission, such as Lebanon.

On his part, President Karis said that Estonia has been supporting Ukraine from the very beginning of the escalation of the war, and asked all EU countries to support Ukraine, pointing out however that the most important thing is for the war to end.

With regard the situation in Gaza, President Karis said that “we really appreciate what you have done, which is the corridor to Gaza, to help these people who are in need and to continue to do so”.

Replying to a question whether they have discussed specific ways with regard to strengthening bilateral relations in the fields of economy and in investments, as well as tourism, President Christodoulides said that there was a lot of untapped potential, especially on issues of cyber security, digitalisation, maritime and tourism.

Replying to the same question, the President of Estonia said that many things can be done as far as bilateral cooperation is concerned in the fields of tourism and connectivity, noting that the two Presidents and their delegations have discussed the issue relating to direct flights between the two countries.

Cyprus  |  Estonia  |  government  |  president

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