The first historic visit of an Italian President to Cyprus could initiate an even more substantial strengthening of bilateral relations, in a way that their level reflects the genuine feelings of familiarity between our peoples, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday evening, during an official dinner held at the Presidential Palace, in honor of President Sergio Mattarella who is paying Cyprus a two-day state visit.

In his address at the dinner, the President said that the first visit of an Italian President to Cyprus since the establishment of the Republic, is an event of substantial symbolic and essential importance, not only because it restores a “historical paradox”, given the close relations between the two countries, but also because it marks a “new era of even stronger relations.”

The President said that the two countries are linked by history, culture, their common European home and the Mediterranean Sea, adding that evidence of this historical connection is scattered throughout Cyprus.

President Christodoulides spoke about the close cooperation of the two countries and the common goals and approaches both in bilateral issues and in issues of EU agenda.

The President emphasized that this year Cyprus marks 20 years since its accession to the European Union and that this is the most important achievement of the Republic of Cyprus after its independence in 1960.

He spoke about the close cooperation between Cyprus and Italy not only at the level of the EU, but also at the level of Med9 and Med5 on migration.

He noted that this year also marks the 50 years since the illegal Turkish invasion of the island, adding that Cyprus still suffers the pain with refugees, missing and enclaved, noting that European citizens are deprived of basic human rights.

The President noted once again that he is committed to make every effort for the resumption of the Cyprus peace talks, based on the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the principles and values of the EU.

He also thanked President Mattarella for Italy’s unwavering support for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, within the agreed framework and on the basis of international law.

President Mattarella said, among other things, that the visit to Nicosia, the first by a President of the Italian Republic, rectifies a “gap”, given the joint participation in the EU and the excellent bilateral relations.

He also expressed the hope that his visit to Cyprus would be an impetus for further development of the bilateral relations. Mattarella pointed out that proof of this fruitful relationship is, among other things, the Mediterranean identity of the two countries, but also the cultural and archaeological heritage.

He made special reference to the mosaics he is set to visit in the Paphos district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, adding that they can be paralleled with those of Villa del Casale in Sicily, his birthplace. He also said that Paphos is described as an idyllic place by one of the greatest Italian poets, Ludovico Ariosto.

He also referred to the Italian community in Cyprus and the Italian businesses based on the island.

Regarding the anniversary of Cyprus’ accession to the EU, the Italian President noted that the Republic of Cyprus plays a fundamental role, acting as a hub for safeguarding EU’s energy security.

He also underlined the very important geostrategic role of Cyprus in the region, noting that it is a point of reference, an advanced outpost of the European ability to react to crises with foresight, generosity and readiness.

President Mattarella also expressed his gratitude to Cyprus for the assistance offered in the evacuation of civilians from the crisis areas, including Italian citizens.

Referring to the Cyprus issue, the Italian President pointed out the need to find a solution based on the UN resolutions.

He referred to his scheduled visits to the Committee on missing persons (CMP), noting that he will pay tribute to all the victims of the Cyprus tragedy who are still missing, as well as to all those who work for building a future based on respect and not on resentment and confrontation.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.

The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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