Milestone in Cyprus-Syria relations


Cyprus president Demetris Christofias yesterday expressed satisfaction over the results of his official visit to Syria, saying it constituted a milestone in relations between the two countries.

Christofias also said that his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, had accepted an invitation to visit Cyprus next year. “I firmly believe that the warm, friendly and traditional relations between Syria and Cyprus are renewed” he said.

He said Cyprus expressed its support with Syria on the issue of the Golan Heights and the settlement of the Palestinian problem and that Syria fully supported a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem, through dialogue.

The issue of the illegal ferry service between Latakia and occupied Famagusta was one area where Cyprus needed the cooperation of Damascus, Christofias said. The two leaders agreed on Monday to let the relevant officials tackle the issue o a technical level, not political.

According to a government source, the language used during the Christofias-Assad meeting made it clear that there technical and legal formulas were available to deal with the issue of the Latakia-Famagusta ferry route.

Christofias noted 24 important agreements have been signed between Syria and Cyprus, ten of which were signed during his two-day visit this week.

Cyprus and Syria had agreed to hold exchanges at ministerial level and the level of officials on the political, financial and social level.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Sport between the Syrian Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committee of Cyprus and the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Protection were signed yesterday at a special ceremony that took place at the Prime Minister’s Palace.

The most important agreement signed was on coordinating search and rescue services. In addition, Cyprus and Syria signed agreements on cooperation in Telecommunications and Information Technology Services, Air Services, cultural cooperation for 2009-2011, Social Security and Agriculture. The 7th Protocol for the implementation of the agreement on Tourism Cooperation for the years 2009-2011 was also signed. The two countries also reached an agreement on technical cooperation between the Central Banks of the two countries.

Christofias said that during his meeting with Assad on Monday and his meeting with the Prime Minister of Syria Muhammad Naji al-Otari they decided the two countries’ cooperation in the fields of energy, tourism and joint investments in various projects.

“The two sides are ready to exchange delegations of businessmen and Ministers at all levels and have practical results,” Christofias said.

As regards his meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Syria Mahmoud al-Abrash, he said that al-Abrash expressed his full support to Cyprus President’s efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus question.

Christofias said that al-Abrash is ready to further develop the relations between the parliaments of Syria and Cyprus and that he will convey this to Cyprus House President Marios Garoyian. Christofias and the Cypriot delegation were due to be received yesterday afternoon by Patriarch of Antioch and all the East Ignatius IV and were scheduled to visit the Church of Saint Ananias and the Great Mosque in Damascus

On his departure from Damascus, Christofias headed to Paris for a meeting and working lunch with French President Nikolas Sarkozy.