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12° Nicosia,
20 July, 2024
 
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Philippine Foreign Secretary strengthens ties in Cyprus

Manalo inaugurates Consulate, praises bilateral relations in historic visit

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

In a historic visit to Cyprus, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique A. Manalo met with Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations. This visit, following Manalo's stop in Greece, marks the first time a sitting Philippine foreign secretary has visited Cyprus, underscoring the growing importance of the relationship.

Manalo's visit included a working meeting with Kombos, where the two officials discussed enhancing cooperation and fostering stronger diplomatic ties. The meeting was significant as it comes ahead of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cyprus, which will be celebrated next year.

During his stay, Manalo also visited the Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Nicosia, Mr. Creton Tornaritis, to officially inaugurate the new Philippine Consulate in Cyprus. The inauguration was a momentous occasion, attended by several members of the press and a sizable gathering of Filipinos from the local community. Manalo was accompanied by H.E. Giovanni E. Palec, the Ambassador of the Philippines to Greece and Cyprus, along with his entourage from Athens. Andreas Kakouris, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, was also present.

The Filipino community in Cyprus, now numbering 18,000, was delighted by Manalo's visit. Many Filipinos work in domestic service and increasingly choose to make Cyprus their permanent home, integrating successfully into Cypriot society.

In his speech at the consulate inauguration, Manalo expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality of Cyprus and highlighted the robust relations between the "two seafaring countries." He praised the Cyprus Registry, classified as the 11th largest merchant fleet globally and the 3rd largest in the European Union, and the Philippines for having the most Filipino seafarers working on ships worldwide.

Consul Creton Tornaritis welcomed Manalo with pride, presenting gifts from Cyprus to both the foreign secretary and Ambassador Palec. The event symbolized the strong and growing ties between the two nations.

When asked to comment on what specifically was discussed during his meeting with Kombos, Foreign Secretary Manalo declined to comment. However, the visit most likely highlighted important issues affecting the Filipino community in Cyprus, including the potential for an agreement to ensure that Filipinos can access their social insurance and pensions upon leaving the country after their employment ends. Additionally, concerns about the role of agents in both countries and the illegal commissions earned from facilitating workers coming to Cyprus were possibly discussed.

Manalo's visit has left a positive impact on the Filipino community and has laid the groundwork for even stronger bilateral relations between the Philippines and Cyprus in the future.

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