The President of the Republic, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, met today, at the Presidential Palace, the Croatian Prime Minister, Mr. Andrej Plencović, who is on an official visit to Cyprus.
The Croatian Prime Minister arrived in the morning at the Presidential Palace where he was officially welcomed by the President.
A military guard presented honors and the national anthems of both countries were performed. The Prime Minister then laid a wreath at the monument of Archbishop Makarios III.
Later, the president and the prime minister held a private meeting, followed by in-depth talks between the delegations of the two countries.
After the talks, the President and Prime Minister made remarks to the media.
In his address, President Anastasiades said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome to Cyprus the Croatian Prime Minister, Mr. Andrej Plenković, a very good friend and colleague of the European Council.
Dear Andrej, your visit is a turning point in the relations between our two countries, since it is the very first visit of a Croatian Prime Minister to the Republic of Cyprus, while next year we will also celebrate another milestone important: the 30and anniversary of the establishment of relations between our countries.
During these 30 years, we have appreciated the continuous deepening and expansion of our relations, as evidenced by the important agreements that our countries have concluded in a wide range of fields, which today constitute the institutional framework and the backbone of our bilateral relations.
I am also particularly happy to note that the high level of political dialogue that we have established in recent years has enabled our cooperation to enter a new phase, of concrete and pragmatic value, particularly in the fields of education, tourism, trade and investment.
Having said that, I would like to stress the great importance we attach to the conclusion of the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation between Cyprus and Croatia, which will bring significant added value to our existing economic ties.
With regard to the pivotal sector of Tourism, I am convinced that the increase in direct flights and passenger flows between our countries over the past two years will continue to contribute to the strengthening of our cooperation in this sector.
During our deliberations today, we also agreed on the need to undertake ambitious initiatives aimed at increasing the volume of our bilateral trade in goods and services, as well as the implementation of promising investments that will promote cooperation between the business communities of our two countries.
At the same time, we both pay close attention to digital transformation. As I explained to you earlier, dear Andrej, we recently signed a relevant Memorandum of Understanding with Estonia, a leading country in this field, and expressed our interest in exploring the potential of establishing a similar collaboration. mutually beneficial with Croatia as well.
We had an in-depth discussion on maritime transport, one of the foundations of our economy. In this context, given the considerable expertise of Cyprus in this field, I proposed to Prime Minister Plenković the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the maritime sector.
Today’s meeting also provided us with a timely opportunity to discuss issues on the European agenda.
I will start with Ukraine, as I had the opportunity to receive first-hand information from Prime Minister Plenković on the situation on the ground, following his recent visit to Kyiv on 8and of May. We both understand that since February 24 and the massive humanitarian crisis that followed, the situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate.
From the very first moment, the EU and its Member States have consistently supported Ukraine politically, diplomatically, financially and technically and will continue to do so.
We also underlined our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
At the same time, we were united in the adoption of sanctions against Russia, in an attempt to pressure to review its actions, cease hostilities and enter into negotiations to find a diplomatic solution.
We are aware that these sanctions inevitably have a cost for our own economies. However, this cost should not be higher for the economies of the Member States than for the Russian economy. This is why they must be targeted, with a specific impact on the sectors they aim to reach.
The other thing we have to bear in mind is that for our policy to have maximum impact, third countries associated with the EU must align their foreign and security policies with those of the Union.
I am referring, among others, to Turkey. Turkey’s decision not to align itself with the sanctions against Russia is deplorable and it is normal that the EU puts pressure on Turkey to also adopt these sanctions and renounce its self-serving behavior which, among othersjeopardizes the intended effect of the sanctions.
All eyes are on Ukraine at the moment, but we must not lose sight of the Cyprus problem, which is also an EU and European problem.
In this regard, I briefed Prime Minister Plenković on my continued initiatives to overcome various challenges and achieve the resumption of peace talks, with a number of bold confidence-building measures at the heart of this effort as a first step in creating a environment conducive to productive activities. settlement talks are to take place.
However, the immediate rejection of my proposed measures by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side, despite the strong support of the international community and the European Union, is once again indicative of Turkey’s true intentions: to prolong the stalemate present in the negotiation process.
Furthermore, I fear that on many occasions Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side, by creating tension through illegal and provocative actions on land and at sea, and insisting on proposals contrary to all United Nations resolutions and to the agreed framework, to prove that they are only interested in political gains and not in a settlement that will lead to a lasting peace.
However, despite the continuous setbacks, I have once again made it clear to Prime Minister Plenković that I will spare no effort and will continue to insist on the need for the Turkish Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table and to resume the peace talks from the time they were suspended.
And taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Prime Minister Plenković for his continued support in our efforts to achieve a lasting and workable settlement, as well as for Croatia’s firm stance in support of our sovereign rights.
The Prime Minister and I also had a productive exchange on issues such as migration; the security and defense role of the EU, and the gradual increase of its army in complementarity with other partners; Climate change; and, of course, rising energy prices which deteriorated in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.
Regarding the last point, we spoke with Andrej about the need to increase EU energy independence as a strategic priority and the urgency of accelerating projects that can strengthen this effort.
In this regard, I had the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister on projects such as the EastMed gas pipeline and the electricity interconnections from the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa to Europe, which have the potential to strengthen EU energy security.
Of course, the EastMed pipeline – which I must remind is an EU project of common interest – is still being assessed in terms of economic sustainability.
But the fact remains that this project has the capacity to considerably help the EU to diversify energy and to provide it with a regular additional supply of natural gas.
As for the EuroAsia and EuroAfrica interconnections, respectively, they are intended to stabilize the regional electricity supply, while also responding to the energy isolation of Cyprus.
The situation in the Western Balkans was also on our agenda today. With the Prime Minister, we shared our concerns about the worrying resurgence of tensions in the region, but at the same time we agreed on our firm commitment to further support the countries of the Western Balkans and to advance the future of the region in the EU, in accordance with the established conditionalities.
In conclusion, dear Andrej, please accept once again my sincere thanks for your visit, as well as my appreciation for your sincere commitment to strengthening relations between Cyprus and Croatia.”
For his part, the Croatian Prime Minister said, among other things, that the political understanding and the intensity of the political dialogue between the two countries, including the cooperation of the respective foreign ministries, are to be welcomed, adding that he There is huge space for investment in many fields, such as the oil and chemical industry, pharmaceutical companies, electrical engineering, the IT sector and with regard to digital cooperation.
He added that the respective ministries of the two countries will follow up in order to increase the volume of exchanges.
He also noted the importance of concluding the Agreement on the Prevention of Double Taxation, stressing that everything should be ready by next November.
He also said direct flights will facilitate tourism.
The Croatian prime minister also said they had discussed migration with the president, which is straining Cyprus’ migration policy as it receives large numbers of illegal migrants from Turkey, Africa and elsewhere. .
He also noted that energy cooperation is most important given the rise in energy crises following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, adding that the two countries can explore ways to leverage the other’s potential for gas, pipelines and other investments.
“We can use the liquefied natural gas terminal that Croatia has builtwhich was supported by the EU.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, the Prime Minister said: “I am grateful to you for the clear explanation of your initiatives. I fully support ideas that would build confidence in Cyprus”, adding that “Croatia’s position has always been one of principle, supporting your efforts, advocating a peaceful solution and supporting all efforts that would bring the parties together and that Cyprus could operate in accordance with the plan that you have suggested, which is in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions regarding international law, your sovereignty and your integrity and that position will not change, it has been continuous and very Claire.”
In conclusion, he said that Croatia supports the various packages and restrictive measures and sanctions against Russia that the EU has adopted and will continue to do so.