Canada will do what it can to support reunification efforts underway in Cyprus, pledged the country`s High Commissioner, stationed in Athens, Keith Morrill.
Morrill was speaking during the presentation of his credentials to President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades as the country`s new High commissioner in Nicosia.
Replying, President Anastasiades said the Government looks forward to further enhancing bilateral relations in all fields.
Presenting his credentials, High Commissioner Morrill said Canada and the Republic of Cyprus have been loyal friends for many years. He reminded that thousands of Canadian Peacekeepers served in Cyprus as part of the UNFICYP mission between 1964 and 1993.
He also said the Canada-Cyprus friendship continues to grow and referred to the vibrant Cypriot-Canadian community that enriches Canada’s diverse multicultural fabric, and the numerous Canadians that make Cyprus their home.
Morrill said Canada appreciates the important contribution of Cyprus in areas related to international security and counter-terrorism as well as the extensive security cooperation between Canada and Cyprus, including during the 2006 evacuation from Lebanon, and more recently during the evacuation of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Jordan. Canada’s continued participation in the annual Argonaut exercise, led by the Cypriot Civil Defence, highlights the unique relationship Canada has fostered with Cyprus on Emergency Management. “We recognize that, as a stable EU member state in a geo-strategic location, Cyprus continues to make an important contribution to regional and global security”, he added.
Canada and the European Union have enjoyed a strong partnership, which has led to the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well as a strategic partnership agreement. These two agreements, once ratified, will serve to bring great benefit to both of our countries, and Canada is grateful for your country’s strong support in this regard, he said. He also welcomed efforts by Canadian companies to consider large-scale investment in Cyprus’ healthcare infrastructure and expressed hope that success in this area will serve to attract more Canadian business.
Regarding Cyprus` offshore hydrocarbon resources Morrill said there is considerable potential for collaboration between the two countries in terms of technical cooperation, specialist training, and the procurement of equipment and services to support exploration and development.
On the recent opening of a resident High Commission in Canada, Morrill said upgrading your diplomatic representation in Canada reflects your country’s concrete desire to deepen our bilateral relationship.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, he said he is “heartened by the progress which has been made in the past year in the reunification talks, which represent a genuine opportunity to secure a settlement. My country and I will do what we can to support reunification efforts”.
Receiving the credentials, President Anastasiades said the two countries have developed and established relations of substance and trusting dialogue, based “on our shared values and beliefs of justice and peace, evident through our close cooperation in international fora and especially within the Commonwealth and the United Nations”.
He expressed the government’s appreciation with the record of support between Cyprus and Canada in International Organisations, and gratitude for the contribution of Canada over the years to the peacekeeping force in Cyprus, taking into account that Canada was part of the first UNFICYP contingent in 1964, and pay tribute to the Canadians who lost their lives in the Turkish invasion of 1974.
“My Government looks forward to further enhancing our bilateral relations in all fields, considering also the recent upgrading of the diplomatic representation of the Republic of Cyprus to Canada, with the opening of our High Commission in Ottawa”, he added.
Regarding the state of the economy in Cyprus, Anastasiades said three years ago today the country was faced with nothing less than economic collapse. “Today, I can proudly and confidently state that Cyprus has become a success story of economic reform”.
“Our path to recovery has been faster than anyone could have predicted three years ago. After almost four years of recession, the Cyprus economy returned to positive economic growth rates in 2015 by registering GDP growth of 1.6%”.
Looking ahead, he said, “we are confident that the economy will be on solid ground in the medium and long term”. Major goals of the Government for 2016 are to entrench growth and create conditions for sustainable development. Our key policy priorities include: the macroeconomic and financial stability, the promotion of structural reforms (including, inter alia, the reform of the public service administration, health system, social policy and the promotion of the privatization programme) as well as the promotion of investments”.
The President said “we still need to tackle significant challenges. And yet, we choose to see this crisis as an opportunity to pursue reforms, to sharpen our competitive edge, to attract foreign direct investments with the ultimate goal of achieving sustained growth and prosperity for all Cypriots”.
On the UN led talks “intensive negotiations to reach a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem”, he said while “a common understanding on an important number of issues has been reached, there are still remaining differences in all chapters and we have yet to embark on substantive discussions in a number of core issues”.
At the same time, he said, there are also issues on which even if we reach a common understanding, the complexities associated with their implementation require time and careful planning.
Thus, he added, “is vital to be well-prepared and present to the people a clear Plan, so as to avoid reaching a solution with considerable gaps or ambiguities that will negatively affect its viability”.
“It is our sincere hope that Turkey, an occupying force in Cyprus, will demonstrate genuine political will to reach a settlement, not via rhetoric assurances, but through the adoption of concrete steps which will positively underpin the negotiating process and the climate of hope prevailing in the island”, the President pledged.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY