Australia recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate authority on the island and commends Cypriot President Demetris Christofias’s efforts in reaching a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem. In a joint communique issued after a meeting held in Canberra between Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, who is paying an official visit to Australia, it is stressed that they expressed their support for a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. According to an official press release, in the joint communique it is stated that Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed President Demetris Christofias to Australia on his first visit to Australia since his election in February 2008. The two leaders agreed the bedrock of relations between Australia and Cyprus is shared values and close people to people links. Prime Minister Gillard acknowledged the important contribution the vibrant Cypriot community has made to the diversity of Australian life. It is noted that Cypriot-born migrants and their families in Australia number over 80,000, the second largest Cypriot community outside Cyprus. The leaders went on to discuss progress on the Cyprus issue and expressed their support for a just and lasting settlement, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, which reunifies Cyprus in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. “This settlement must be based on a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship“, it is stressed. Moreover, Prime Minister Gillard reaffirmed Australian support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. “Australia recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate authority on the island. Welcoming progress so far, the Prime Minister commended President Christofias’s efforts and underlined the importance of achieving a comprehensive solution“ the joint communique says. President Christofias recorded his appreciation for Australia’s long standing and active interest in efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement to the Cyprus issue and for its involvement in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). It is noted that Australian Federal Police officers have operated in Cyprus as part of this force continuously since 1964, while this year marks the arrival of the 100th Australian Police contingent at UNFICYP. Prime Minister Gillard said Australia’s commitment to the people of Cyprus remained undiminished. In the joint communique it is said that Australia has maintained a Special Representative for Cyprus since 1998 who follows developments in Cyprus closely and works to encourage support within the Australian Cypriot community for a settlement to the problem. The Australian Government supports community-focused initiatives such as the Cyprus Academic Dialogue. The President and Prime Minister agreed to continue to facilitate and encourage reciprocal visits and to explore further cooperation in areas of mutual interest. They also noted strong cultural and educational links between Australia and Cyprus and said that cooperation was particularly strong in the area of antiquities and archaeology, with Australian archaeologists working on the island of Cyprus since the 1930s. It is added that there are significant exchanges at the undergraduate and postgraduate level between universities in Australia and Cyprus. Prime Minister Gillard conveyed her appreciation for the generous contribution by Cyprus to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeal and updated the President on reconstruction efforts. The leaders noted the challenges both countries faced with fires and welcomed the deepening exchange between the Cypriot and Victorian fire and emergency services. It is noted that a visit by the Cyprus Fire Department is foreseen later this year. President Christofias expressed his sympathy for the victims of more recent disasters in Australia, including Cyclone Yasi, flooding in the eastern states, and bushfires in Western Australia and it is noted that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has made a donation towards the restoration of the Cyprus community building in Brisbane. Prime Minister Gillard congratulated Cyprus on its forthcoming and inaugural EU Presidency and outlined Australian priorities in its relations with the EU and said that Australia attaches great importance to concluding an Australia-EU Framework Agreement. The President affirmed Cyprus’s support for the Agreement, which was both timely and appropriate. President Christofias welcomed Australia’s active participation and strong engagement in a range of UN and other multilateral bodies. “Australia and Cyprus both strongly support reform of the UN Security Council and its working methods to better reflect the modern world and ensure it is accessible to small and middle-sized countries. As nations with significant shipping interests, Australia and Cyprus strongly support the work of the International Maritime Organization and value our cooperation on issues such as protection of the marine environment and maritime security“, it is said. The Prime Minister and President discussed the challenges each country faced from irregular migration and people smuggling. President Christofias detailed to Prime Minister Gillard new EU initiatives to address this problem, while the Prime Minister updated the President on Australia’s proposal for a Regional Cooperation Framework. The two leaders noted people smuggling was a global problem that required a comprehensive solution and agreed to continue to share lessons learnt in addressing it. As active members of the Commonwealth, the President and Prime Minister agreed to work closely together in the lead-up to Australia’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth in October. The meeting will provide a good opportunity to discuss global issues of mutual concern, including sustainable development, food security and climate change. The two leaders underscored the importance of institutional reform in furthering the Commonwealth’s effectiveness and influence. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Talks are currently underway between the leaders of the two communities to reunify the island.

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