The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, met today, in Beirut, with the President of Lebanon, Mr Michel Aoun.
President Anastasiades, who was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs Andri Anastasiades, and the members of the Cypriot delegation, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Energy and the Government Spokesman, arrived at 11.30 in the morning at the Presidential Palace in Beirut, where he was officially welcomed by President Aoun.
During the official welcoming ceremony, a military guard payed honors and the National Anthems of the two countries were performed.
The two Presidents held a private meeting followed by expanded talks between the delegations of the two sides.
Later on President Anastasiades and President Aoun made statements to the Media.
In his statement, President Anastasiades said the following:
“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for your kind words, and for the exceptionally warm hospitality that has been extended to me, and to the members of my delegation. I am rejoiced to have met today a very good friend, and a neighbor.
Our relations extend beyond our geographical proximity: they are deeply rooted in the strong ties between the Lebanese and Cypriot people which date back to the Phoenician times. Both Cypriot and Lebanese people have shown their resilience throughout the hardships we have experience in the course of our long history.
Through turbulent times, Cyprus provided a hospitable and safe haven for Lebanese people who have established a vibrant and active community in Cyprus, now being their second home.
Our partnership is greatly valued by the Government and the people of Cyprus, and is one that we are committed to continue upgrading and enriching, so as to foster even stronger links between our Governments and peoples.
Today, we had with President Aoun a very constructive and fruitful meeting. We discussed a number of issues of mutual concern, focusing on ways to further advance our bilateral relations, developing synergies in the region, and further EU – Lebanon relations.
Developments in our region render our cooperation on a number of fields, including political, economic and security, all the more important. President Aoun and I both highlighted the significance of this multifaceted cooperation and discussed ways of further enhancing it with the aim of promoting our shared vision, achieving peace and stability in our region.
Lebanon and Cyprus are both feeling the impact of the turmoil that our region is facing. I praise the generosity of Lebanon for hosting around 1,5 million Syrian refugees. We are fully aware of the challenges Lebanon is faced with. We also understand the impact this has on local communities. Let me assure you that Cyprus will continue to assist Lebanon in overcoming these challenges, bilaterally and through the channels of the European Union.
Within the context of our cooperation, and as an indication of our strong will to further support Lebanon, I’m looking forward to host you in Cyprus, together with the Prime Minister of Greece, in the first Trilateral meeting at the level of Heads of State to take place before the end of 2017.
Furthermore, during our deliberations, I had the opportunity to inform President Aoun on the latest developments with regards to the negotiations on the Cyprus problem, following the meeting we had on June 4th with the United Nations Secretary-General and the Turkish Cypriot leader.
During the meeting in New York, we agreed that prior to reconvening the Conference on Cyprus, which has been set for the 28th of June, the Special Adviser of the United Nations’ Secretary-General will engage with all participants in the preparation of a common document on Security and Guarantees.
Through this document we expect that discussions on this chapter will be structured, focused and results-oriented, and not a repetition of the rhetoric of the Conference held on January 12.
We hope that Turkey will finally engage constructively in this process and submit positions so that progress can be achieved.
Cyprus’ capacity as an EU member state provides the best guarantee. It is unthinkable that an EU member state should have a military presence and maintain an anachronistic system of guarantees by a third country.
Both the Cypriot and the Lebanese people have shown their resilience in overcoming the hardships that history has brought their way. My visit reiterates our determination to work together to overcome the challenges we are faced with and chart a steady course for a peaceful and prosperous future for both our countries and the wider region. I wish to assure you that Cyprus will continue to stand by Lebanon.
I am looking forward to welcoming you in Cyprus.
Once more, Mr President, I would like to thank you for your warm hospitality and the fruitful meeting we had.”
On his part, President Aoun, speaking through an interpreter, said, inter alia, that Cyprus and Lebanon share historic relations that are flawless.
“We do not forget how Cyprus hosted many Lebanese families during the periods of painful war that our nation has undergone”, he said, adding that “we encourage the governments of our two countries to increase the level of cooperation in the field of oil and gas and we stress the need to promote dialogue and fruitful cooperation in the field of energy between the two states according to the principles of the international law and the Convention of the Law of the Sea.
In the economic context I affirmed the necessity to liberalise the conditions of entry of the Lebanese agricultural and industrial products to the Cypriot markets and to examine the possible cooperation as regards the exportation of Lebanese products through maritime shipping.
During the meeting we touched upon the general situation in the region and the world where terrorism is striking in all directions. We agreed to united efforts to fight it and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation between the concerned institutions in our two countries and in the specialised international fora as well as the regular exchange of information.
I stressed the need for Lebanon’s security to be among the most important issues on the agenda of the European Union.”
He also thanked Cyprus for the military assistance it is providing to the Lebanese army.
With regard to the Cyprus problem, President Aoun stressed “Lebanon’s support for the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the UN aiming at reaching a peaceful solution that will guarantee the unity of the Cypriot territories. I also expressed our regret for the stalled negotiations while affirming our support for the territorial unity of Cyprus and the necessity to find a settlement that guarantees stability in Cyprus including all the components of its society.”
President Aoun added that with President Anastasiades they discussed about Cyprus’ initiative to combat the smuggling of antiquities and artefacts from the Middle East to Europe.
“I assured of the President of Lebanon’s absolute support for this initiative”, he concluded.
After the statements, President Aoun hosted an official lunch in honor of President Anastasiades./IBNA