US President Barack Obama pledges to continue supporting efforts to reunify Cyprus

US President Barack Obama pledges to continue supporting efforts to reunify Cyprus

US President Barack Obama has said that his country will continue to support Cyprus` leaders in their efforts to achieve a just and lasting solution, adding that he is hopeful they will seize this historic opportunity to forge a better future for all Cypriots.

In his reply to the remarks by the newly appointed Ambassador of Cyprus in the US, Leonidas Pantelides, who presented his credentials to him, Obama congratulated him on “the remarkable progress being made towards a settlement,” stressing that he remains fully committed to supporting Cypriot-led efforts to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

Obama noted that the United States values its long history of friendship and strategic partnership with the Republic of Cyprus. “I am pleased that over the past several years we have worked to strengthen our ties, including through greater bilateral trade and investment and by working together to promote peace and security in the region,” he said.

“Our strong partnership is also reflected in the growing commercial, cultural, and educational exchanges between our citizens,” he said, adding that he looked forward to working with the new Ambassador of Cyprus “as we continue to build upon this engagement for the benefit of Cypriots and Americans.”

On his part, Pantelides said that in the past months, a greater sense of optimism surrounds efforts to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution in Cyprus in accordance with international law and standards of respect for individual human rights and basic freedoms.

“My intention is to work with your Administration in a very intensive way in the remainder of its term in office, as well as with Congress, taking full advantage of your Administration`s expressed desire to assist us in these efforts,” he added.

Pantelides thanked Obama for his country`s “principled support throughout these difficult years and for the assistance you have provided to our efforts, under UN auspices, to peacefully end the occupation and to re-unify Cyprus under a federal framework.”

Noting that Cyprus still suffers the occupation of one third of its territory by Turkish troops, he pointed out that the resolution of the Cyprus issue and reunification would provide a model of harmonious coexistence and sharing of power between communities of different religious and ethnic consciousness “and this is something that our region and the world could greatly benefit from.”

He conveyed the warmest greetings from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to him, his family “and to the friendly people of the United States of America”, re-affirming, on behalf of the President and the people of Cyprus, “the importance we attach to further developing relations, cooperation and friendship between our two countries and peoples.”

“These relations are multi-faceted, expanding in recent years and are firmly footed on common values, shared principles and a mutual commitment to promoting international law and the prevalence of human rights. Cyprus and the United States, even though geographically far from each other, share many common characteristics and a history of deep friendship,” he added.

“We also strive for a common vision of a peaceful Eastern Mediterranean and of a world in which free, prosperous democratic societies work together to effectively tackle the common challenges humanity is facing,” Pantelides said.

Referring to the turbulent times throughout the globe but especially in the troubled neighborhood of the Middle East, he noted that “in addition to our determination to counter terrorism and religious extremism, at this dangerous transitional time for the Eastern Mediterranean, there is an urgent need to develop ideas about a better future for the peoples of the wider region.”

“The role of the United States of America is crucial in this development. Cyprus, as a country in very close proximity to this fragmented and tormented region, has oriented its foreign policy to promote the stability of the region and to build bridges of cooperation,” he noted.

He added that being a small country, member of the European Union, Cyprus is naturally inclined towards cooperative, multilateral, soft-power solutions to the complex problems of the region. “We look forward to exploring ways of working with your Administration on encouraging regional integration and cooperation, thus helping to build the foundations for a more lasting peace. I have the firm belief that our two countries can be effective partners in this effort,” Pantelides said.

Referring to the discovery of significant amounts of hydrocarbon reserves within the Republic of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as the serious potential for greater discoveries, he noted that they have made Cyprus a far more important destination for US investment in the field of offshore energy exploration, infrastructure and related industries.

“US companies are already active and others are establishing a presence in Cyprus. We will continue working together to promote mutually beneficial commercial and business transactions and to encourage more US companies to become active in Cyprus,” the Ambassador said.

President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, have been engaged in UN-led talks since May last year, with a view to reunite Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.