ATHENS-- President Nicos Anastasiades discussed with Greek Premier Antonis Samaras the Cyprus problem, and matters related to the financial crisis and energy matters, during their meeting in the Greek capital, Athens.
President Anastasiades is paying his first official visit abroad after his election last February.
Samaras, in his statements to the press, welcomed Anastasiades to Athens and said that Greece remains always by the side of the Greek Cypriot people and the Republic of Cyprus, in an effort to end the island’s Turkish occupation and reach a just, viable and working solution.
He added that the solution should be based on UN Security Council resolutions, international law, EU principles and the acquis.
The Prime Minister of Greece further said that the new Cyprus government should be given some time to formulate its proposals on “substantial negotiations”, under the UN, aiming at a Cyprus solution and expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriot side will make use of the existing opportunity.
Moreover, he said that they exchanged views with the Cyprus President on the financial crisis that has hit both countries, and discussed matters relevant to the upcoming European Council, later this week. As Samaras put it “it is our joint wish to enhance this coordination between our countries, in a framework of mutual understanding regarding our positions”.
Samaras said that Cyprus is Greece’s fourth biggest trade partner, Greek exports to the island surpass 1 bln euros, while Greek investment on the island comprise 17% of the total and 71% of all Greek investments in the Eurozone. He thanked Cyprus for offering employment opportunities to many Greeks, following the financial crisis.
He added that current developments in Cyprus are of concern to Greece and expressed his confidence that the efforts of President Anastasiades to secure a bailout agreement with the best possible terms will soon bear fruit.
With regard to the exploitation of Cyprus’ natural resources, Samaras noted the recent agreements signed with a series of big companies, which he said signifies the important opportunities opening up in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also said that it is Cyprus’ inalienable right to exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone and underlined the need to create a common European policy for the EEZ.
Samaras added that Greeks are going through challenging times, both in Greece and Cyprus, but expressed his conviction that they will emerge stronger, having acquired a more significant geopolitical and geostrategic role.
President Anastasiades said the two sides had in Athens a substantial, productive and fruitful discussion, which confirms “our willingness for closer cooperation”, to the benefit of both countries.
He expressed the gratitude of the Greek Cypriot people to Greece’s lasting support and sacrifices to secure Cyprus’ sovereignty and defend the Republic of Cyprus. He also noted that Cyprus cannot overlook Greece’s hospitality to Cypriot refugees, following Turkey’s invasion in 1974 and the job opportunities it offered to Greek Cypriots. President Anastasiades further mentioned the support provided by Athens to Nicosia, during the latter’s bid to join the EU.
The President of the Republic said moreover that it is true that Greeks are facing a crisis, but noted that they have been through tougher times in the past “and we managed to rise again” and become proud once again. He recalled that the 1974 disaster turned into an “economic miracle” due to “Greek stubbornness and determination”.
Concluding his statements to the press, President Anastasiades noted that during the discussion, it emerged that there is an open prospect of turning the crisis into an opportunity, in order to reverse negative developments.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Excluded from international capital markets, Cyprus has requested financial assistance from the EU bailout mechanism after its two largest banks sought state aid following massive losses of their Greek bond holdings estimated at €4.5 billion, as a result of the Greek sovereign debt haircut.