Newsroom / CNA
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou held their first meeting in Athens on Tuesday, focusing the discussion on Turkey’s actions in the region and the close ties between the two countries.
Speaking during their meeting at the Presidential Palace, Sakellaropoulou welcomed President Anastasiades and said that she is looking forward to her visit to Cyprus which has been delayed due to the pandemic, expressing hope that it will take place in September, a Press and Information Office (PIO) announcement noted.
“I would like to hear from you on the course of the Cyprus issue, which is a top national matter of the Greek foreign policy,” she said. Greece, she stressed, “will continue to firmly stand by the Republic of Cyprus and to fully support efforts to reach a viable and functional solution on the basis of the relevant United Nations Security Council decisions and the acquis communautaire.”
Your visit, Sakellaropoulou continued, takes place after Turkey’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.
“It is a decision which has irreparably hit Hellenism and the Christian people. It also deeply wounds all those who irrespective of their religious convictions understand that a great monument of humanity, such as the Hagia Sophia, can be used as a tool in order to serve goals alien to its inter-religious radiance,” she noted.
Hagia Sophia, she stressed, is a unique symbol of Christianity which belongs to the world cultural heritage. It is as such a monument that it operated in the last eon, as a space of peaceful co-existence of religions, a place where civilizations meet and unify. Its conversion to a Muslim mosque moves Turkey away from the values of the secular state and the principles of tolerance and pluralism, inadmissibly dividing our region, she added.
Greece, the EU and the international community should mobilise through any available means in order to restore the historic truth and safeguard the ecumenical character of Hagia Sophia, she said.
Sakellaropoulou further pointed out that already in yesterday’s EU Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers, our partners’ solidarity to Greece and Cyprus was expressed, Turkey’s delinquency was condemned and it was decided that a list of further reaction measures would be drafted. “It was a step in the right direction and I hope it will be continued,” she noted.
On his part, President Anastasiades expressed his joy to be in Athens, even under very difficult circumstances and extended his warm congratulations to Greece’s President on her appointment, expressing confidence that she will be successful in her mission.
“At the same time, I will be delighted to receive you in Cyprus in September, it will be a particular honour for us and a joy for the Greeks of Cyprus because symbolism is always important, he said.
Anastasiades referred to the unfortunate conditions created in recent months through a series of provocative actions by Turkey, including illegal drillings in Cyprus’ EEZ, or its aggression in Syria or Iraq which is also extended to the illegal memorandum of understanding which it has signed with Libya while at the same time threatening to usurp Greece’s EEZ.
The culmination is its move to convert a symbol for Christianity and a cultural monument for humanity as a whole into a mosque, he said. Something, which has been condemned by humanity as a whole, he noted, adding that the key issue is not verbal condemnation but how the international community behaves faced with a power which unfortunately interprets international law at will in order to achieve revisionism and a behaviour which is not compatible with an EU candidate member state. That is to say, Anastasiades went on, Turkey does not abide with the minimum rules of a candidate country, it flagrantly violates international law, it offensively defies every principle and value of Europe.
President Anastasiades said that “this is the reason I am in Athens today, the coordination with the Greek government,” adding that they have “an excellent cooperation and understanding and in this context what we seek is coordination, so that our efforts for the prevalence of peace can be more effective.”
“Neither Greece, nor Cyprus seek an escalation,” he said, adding that on the contrary “what we seek is what is accepted by all.”
He further expressed the wish that his consultations with Greece’s Prime Minister will have the outcomes they are looking forward to. “Let me reiterate: Peace, stability, good neighbour relations.”