Official visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to the Republic of Cyprus
On March 15, President Serzh Sargsyan has arrived on the official visit to the Republic of Cyprus. After the welcoming ceremony for the high guest, which took place at the Presidential residence, Presidents Nicos Anastasiades and Serzh Sargsyan held a private meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting there took place negotiations in the extended format. After the negotiations signed were agreements aimed at the development and deepening of the Armenian-Cypriot cooperation in a number of areas. In particular, signed were the Program of Cooperation between the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus in the Area of Culture, the Action Plan between the Ministry of Education and Science of RA and the Ministry of Education and Culture of the RC on Cooperation in the Area of Education and Science for 2016-2020, Agreement between the Government of the RA and Government of the RC on Mutual Recognition of the Higher Educational Qualification to start and continue education in the higher education institutions of the two countries. The Presidents of Armenia and Cyprus summarized the results of their meeting in the joint statements at the press conference with the participation of the representatives of mass media. The President of Cyprus welcomed the President of Armenia and his delegation and expressed confidence that as a result of this visit, the Armenia-Cypriot relations will strengthen and deepen. “During today’s discourse we’ve had the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and reiterated the high level of the bilateral relations, as well as the excellent cooperation of Cyprus and Armenia in the framework of international structures. We have pledged to further and deepen our cooperation in every possible area. This mutual pledge is testified to by three agreements which have been signed in the area of education and culture. So far, our countries have signed fifteen agreements which prove the existence of strong ties between Armenia and Cyprus. I must certainly mention that presence of the active Armenian community in Cyprus also testifies to our brotherly relations; the Armenian community harmoniously integrated into the Cypriot culture but at the same time proudly preserves its own culture, language, and religious identity. Our Armenian compatriots constitute a very important link which ties together our two countries, and they manage very successfully to keep Armenia in the hearts of the people of Cyprus. Today, considering our historical, cultural and religious ties, we reiterate our readiness to continue and invigorate our cooperation in bilateral as well as multilateral frameworks, constantly mindful of mutual respect towards international law. This is proved by the unanimous decision adopted by the Parliament of Cyprus on April 2, 2015 criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. We were the first EU country which in 1982 recognized the Armenian Genocide. On every occasion and through our organizations in the diaspora throughout the world we unite our voice with yours also against the refusal to recognize the Genocide. At the negotiations we have had the opportunity to inform each other on the Cyprus issue and the latest developments around the NK conflict. I briefed the President on the efforts to achieve a solution which will reunite Cyprus, will set it free from the occupation troops, will create conditions for peaceful coexistence always on the basis of everything that has been agreed at various times, on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. What we seek is that the solution is imbued with the principles and values of the EU, with full protection for the human rights of all the citizens of the country. What we seek is not a solution that will create winners and leave behind losers, but a solution that will create prospects for the future of all the inhabitants of this country. This meeting also provides opportunity to learn from my good friend and colleague Serzh about the developments around the Nagorno Karabakh peace process. I reiterated Cyprus’ support to the efforts of the Minsk Group, under the auspices of the OSCE, for a peaceful solution of the conflict through a dialogue and away from the use of violence. Cyprus acknowledges the honorable efforts made by Armenia for the peaceful settlement of this issue. With my friend, the President of Armenia we have also discussed Armenia’s relations with the EU and issues related to cooperation, and I have reiterated that Cyprus is a firm supporter of the substantial deepening of Armenia’s relations with the EU in all possible areas. Cyprus supports Armenian also in the framework of Eastern Partnership because your country, Mr. President, is a very important and valuable partner. At the same time, I totally respect foreign policy implemented by you, your decisions and your membership to the EEU. In conclusion, I would like to once again welcome you and assure that our relations from now one will become even deeper and stronger,” said President of Greece Nicos Anastasiades at the press conference which took place after the negotiations with the President of RA.
In honor of the President of Armenia, who is in the Republic of Cyprus on the official visit, in the evening of March 15, the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades gave an official dinner. At the dinner, the Presidents of the two countries made speeches. They spoke about the centuries-long friendship and about the necessity to deepen relations of the Armenian and Cypriot peoples who are linked by the same system of values, pledged to further strengthen the bilateral interstate relations, and from this viewpoint referred to the expectations raised by the visit of the President of Armenia.
“Histories of our two nations were often similar and common. When we were prosecuted, we were prosecuted for the same system of values whose founders and bearers we were. When we fought, we fought together, relying on our values and our mentality. Today too, true to our principles, unwavering in our convictions, we shoulder each other in moving forward our foreign policy agenda. It is vividly proved by the fact that last April, Mr. Anastasiades personally arrived to Armenia to declare that crimes cannot go unpunished and that “Cyprus and Armenia naturally fight together against the criminals who perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The common history and ties of the Armenian and Cypriot peoples have become a source of inspiration for the development and expansion of our interstate cooperation. I would l like to note with satisfaction that our political dialogue, especially in recent years, has been developing steadily. It is proved by the reciprocal visits of the Heads of the Armenian and Cypriot Parliaments and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, contacts between the members of the two parliaments. There are also numerous cultural and educational contacts. Orderly course of these processes is supported by the bilateral legal field. I would like to stress our bilateral military cooperation which grows stronger by year. Armenia and Cyprus also carry out an exemplary cooperation in the international and European formats. And the fact that in vital for our countries issues we lean on different international principles but at the same time continue to cooperate closely and at different platforms speak from the unbiased positions proves once again that our relations are above any kind of political interests but are rather united by the friendship which withstood the test of times, present brotherhood, and close cooperation in the future.
I don’t need to bring proof to support what I have just said: our entire history is a proof of that. What are the political and economic relations between the Kingdom of Cyprus and Armenian Cilicia, our shoulder to shoulder fight to defend the island against the foreign invaders if not a proof our lasting friendship? What was the participation of the highest Cypriot leadership at the commemoration of 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide if not the present brotherhood? What is my current visit, signed documents and the expanding agenda of cooperation if not a promise of our future close cooperation?
I propose to raise glasses for our centuries-long friendship, for the glory of the Armenian and Cypriot peoples, for the glory of our common system of values which makes our brotherhood immovable,” said the President of Armenia.
In his toast, the President of Cyprus spoke about the centuries-long friendship of the two nations and about the Armenian community of Cyprus which makes it even stronger, and whose talented representatives, according to the President of Cyprus, one hundred years ago escaped by miracle the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and settled in Cyprus bringing with their decades-long diligence and creative abilities a significant contribution to the development of Cyprus in the economic and other areas as scientists, entrepreneurs and high professionals from various fields.
On March 16 President Serzh Sargsyan together with the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades at the open museum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus attended the ceremony of unveiling a cross-stone which symbolizes the Armenian-Cypriot friendship. On the occasion of his official visit and on behalf of the Armenian people, President Sargsyan presented to the Cypriot side a copy of the 16th century cross-stone from Jugha. President Anastasiades expressed gratitude for the gift and underscored that the cross-stone reflects the unbreakable ties between Armenia and Cyprus, between the Armenian and Cypriot peoples. “Our two nations, which became victims of the same crimes, have been fighting in the international arena for the preservation of their rights and values. Cyprus was the first European country which recognized the Armenian Genocide and condemned that crime. Our countries and peoples, my friend, Mr. President of the Republic of Armenia, uphold the norms of international law, including the right of people for self-determination, resolution of problems through peaceful means and define their future based on respect towards human rights. Sons and daughters of the Armenian nation, who one hundred years ago fleeing from the genocide settled in Cyprus, today constitute a very active and significant part of the Cypriot society, preserving at the same time their language, identity, traditions and with respect for their origins and their country but also with respect for the country which accepted them. We are proud that they make part of our society.
Cyprus and Armenia continue to develop bilateral cooperation, uniting forces of the two nations for the victory in their struggle for justice. The unveiling of this monument today proves once again and demonstrates to all the deep and historical ties which exist between our peoples,” said President Nicos Anastasiades.
The President of Armenia said it was symbolic that a cross-stone installed in the park near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, and represents the most unique invention of the Armenian nation’s millennia long historical heritage, has been chosen as a gift and noted that from now one it will represent Armenia and the Armenian nation to the people of Cyprus and foreigners visiting Cyprus, becoming an ostensive example of the Armenian-Cypriot brotherhood. It will also signal alarm that any encroachment against culture is a crime against humanity and will make progressive part of the humanity unite and fight against brutal force which threatens unique landmarks which represent history and culture. “This masterpiece, which has become a symbol of the spiritual values of the Armenian nation and its Christian spirit, has been declared by the UNESCO part of the humankind’s non-material heritage. Armenia’s state register of historical and cultural landmarks includes over 10,000 cross-stones and each and every one of them is unique in its composition and decorations. For us, Armenians the Cross and the Church have had an exceptional historic role. In the long-lasting absence of statehood, the Church often played the role of state, uniting our nation, while the cross-stone has cherished and preserved the Armenian identity which allowed us 25 years ago to reinstate our independent statehood. Thus, this choice of a symbolic gift to the friendly people of Cyprus was not accidental. Spiritual and material, stone and cross were united and endowed with spirit, recapping our history, culture, faith, spiritual essence, and mentality. If we were to bring together all cross-stones spread all over the world, we would see the entire period of Christianity in the history of our nation. Each cross-stone created throughout our history speaks volumes about glorious and gloomy pages of our history, ups and downs. Among them cross-stones which still stand on our native land as the centuries-old witnesses of the Armenian statehood; there are cross-stones which are spread all over the world, in different countries – they bear the memory of our nation. There are also cross-stones which fought like soldiers, such as the cross-stones of Artsakh which survived destruction. Sadly, there were also cross-stones which were destroyed barbarically, like 3000 cross-stones of New Jugha which were wiped out by Azerbaijan.
The cross-stone installed here, is a wonderful replica of the cross-stone created in the 16th century and destroyed in Jugha. It had been destroyed but it was reborn – destroyed was the stone, but not the Cross,” said President Serzh Sargsyan.
On March 16 President Serzh Sargsyan met with the President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus Yiannakis Omirou. President Sargsyan thanked Mr. Omirou for the warm reception extended to the Armenian delegation and noted that he was glad to be hosted at the brotherly Cyprus. He said that today relations between Armenia and Cyprus are not different from the brotherly ties the two countries enjoyed in the past. The President of Armenia expressed confidence that in the future, the builders of the Armenian-Cypriot relations will also bring great dedication to their task, always mindful of the responsibility to preserve and strengthen the high level of the current friendly relations.
Serzh Sargsyan and Yiannakis Omirou recalled warmly their previous meetings. They concurred that the historically formed amicable relations between the Armenian and Cypriot peoples have acquired a new value after Armenia regained independence and the interstate relations have been developing in the atmosphere of mutual understanding and friendship. With this regard, President Sargsyan hailed the personal input of Mr. Yiannakis Omirou and recalled the adoption in Cyprus of the resolution, which was initiated by Yiannakis Omirou, on the criminalization of denial of the Armenian Genocide as well as his participation along with the President of Cyprus in the events in Yerevan dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The President of Armenia and President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus stressed the importance of close cooperation of the two friendly states in the parliamentary assemblies. Serzh Sargsyan and Yiannakis Omirou exchanged views on the critical issues of the Armenian and Cypriot foreign policy agendas and assured each other that Armenia and Cyprus stand shoulder to shoulder on the road towards the resolution of these issues.
President Serzh Sargsyan visited today the University of Cyprus and met with the faculty and students. The President of Armenia gave a speech and answered questions raised by the participants of the meeting. Before that, the President of Armenia was greeted by the Rector of the University Konstandinos Christophides and the representative of the Armenian community at the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Cyprus Vartkes Mahdesian.
On the last day of his official visit to Cyprus, President Serzh Sargsyan on March 16 met with the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II.
The President of Armenia stressed the importance of inter-faith solidarity and mutual respect toward each other’s religion, which according to the President, is a pillar of the unshakable Armenian-Cypriot friendship and today also the issue receives due high-level attention and attitude. Underscoring that mutual sympathy between the Armenian and Cypriot peoples is conditioned also by the adherence to and respect toward the same all-human values, Serzh Sargsyan noted that the important mission of enrooting and preserving these values has been carried out for centuries by Church, while for the Armenian nation, which at some point was deprived of its statehood, the Armenian Church in part took upon itself also the role of the state. The President expressed confidence that in our times, the issue of strengthening of spiritual values carries special import, considering the fact the process of globalization is full not only of positive but also numerous negative consequences and to resist them is the imperative, especially for small nations, from the viewpoint of preservation of the national identity, cultural and spiritual values. During the meeting, Serzh Sargsyan expressed gratitude to the authorities of Cyprus, the Church and the friendly people of Cyprus for their permanently considerate attention toward the Armenian nation and especially toward our compatriots residing in Cyprus. The Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II noted with satisfaction that brotherly relations with the Armenian people have historical roots. According to the Archbishop, the Church of Cyprus has excellent relations with the entire Christian world, including with the Armenian Church and these relations also reinforce the interstate relations. The Archbishop expressed confidence that the future holds many good days for the brotherly Armenian and Cypriot nations. He wished Armenia and the Armenian people peace and prosperity.
In the framework of his official visit to Cyprus, Serzh Sargsyan on March 16 in Nicosia visited also Narek Armenian school, familiarized with the conditions and programs of the school, and watched the cultural program which was prepared by the students for the visit of the President of Armenia. The President laid a wreath at the monument for the victims of the Armenian Genocide located in the courtyard of the school and Saint Mary’s Church, visited the Church, and met with the representatives of the Armenian community of Cyprus.