The Republic of Cyprus celebrated on the 1st of October the 59th Anniversary of its Independence. The Cypriot independence came into effect following the liberation struggle of the Cypriot people against the British colonial rule in the years 1955-1959.This solemn occasion allows us to reflect on the history and the eventful life and achievements of the new Republic as well as to look forward to the challenges ahead.
Cyprus΄ recorded history goes back to the 11 century B.C. The arrival of the Achaean Greeks 3.000 years ago and the Hellenization of the island is the most striking event which determined the identity, the language and the civilization of the island until today. Lying at a geographic strategic position between three continents- Europe, Asia and Africa- Cyprus attracted over the centuries many foreign conquerors of the region as Persians, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and finally the British.
The new Republic established in 1960 was confronted with many problems from the beginning deriving from the misfunctional constitution and went through difficult times due to the partition policies of Turkey. This turbulent period culminated in the Turkish military invasion in 1974 in flagrant violation of every aspect of International Law and Human Rights. The consequences of the invasion were disastrous for the island and its people: occupation of 37% of the country representing 70% of the economic potential, forcible expelling of the Greek autochthon population, property usurpation, massive colonization through mainland Turks based on a plan of changing the demographic character and turkifying the area under occupation.
The reestablishment of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and the search for a viable solution in accordance to UN resolutions, International and European Law that reunites Cyprus in a normal and independent state, without foreign occupation troops and guaranties is since then the highest priority of the Cypriot government. Although many concessions have been made, Cyprus is constantly facing a Turkey that remains provocative and intransigent in its divisional goals and policy of controlling Cyprus, as it is recently reconfirmed with the illegal Turkish seismic surveys and drilling actions in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of natural gas and its intention to open the fenced city of Famagusta, “a ghost city” since 1974, in violation of the provisions of the relevant UN resolutions.
Cyprus is clearly faced with an unprecedented escalation of Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, whilst, regrettably, the efforts of resuming the negotiating process are underway, and, thus, severely undermining the aim of having a conducive environment for meaningful negotiations. Turkey΄s provocative activities have been strongly condemned by the international community and the European Union, which expressed their full solidarity and support to the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereign rights and called repeatedly on Turkey to respect them and terminate its unlawful actions. Despite that Turkey΄s view on Cyprus΄ sovereign rights to exploit its natural resources “is a minority of one versus the rest of the world” as former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell stated last year, all calls and messages have fallen at best on deaf ears and have been completely ignored.
Although confronted with the problem of the Turkish occupation and the continued illegal policies of Turkey, Cyprus is today a developed and prosperous country member of the European Union and the Eurozone and a pillar of stability and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. Geography defined Cyprus as the European Union΄s lighthouse in the area, neighboring a vitally important but volatile area of the world. Through a web of bilateral and trilateral cooperation and synergies with the countries of the region, Cyprus is actively promoting regional cooperation and efforts to achieve peace, stability, security and prosperity in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus and Romania lie at a distance of approximately 1,500 km from each other but this geographic reality is not relevant when considering the relations and exchanges of the two friendly countries and peoples in the past. In fact, they enjoy traditional bonds of friendship forged over centuries of interaction and share historical and cultural ties highlighting a long string of common elements and aspects in their destinies with the absence of any conflicts or reasons for tension or mistrust.
Romania was among the first countries which established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. Cyprus thanks Romania for its principled position and support over the years on the issue of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Cyprus and Romania are today two partners in the European Union sharing common interests and vision, a partnership that opened new prospects of enhanced co-operation between them. I take this opportunity to reiterate Cyprus support to Romania΄s accession to the Schengen area and, at the same time, to express my heartfelt congratulations to Romania for leading a very successful first Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union last semester and for working closely with all EU Member States in jointly addressing our common challenges.
The bilateral relations between Cyprus and Romania are at excellent level in all areas of cooperation and through the solid base of a wide array of agreements are constantly growing and broadening in trade, tourism, culture and education and, thus, further strengthening the bilateral ties. There is an important commercial activity of Cypriot businessmen in Romania with Cyprus ranking fourth among the largest foreign investor in Romania with 5.000 businesses operating in various economic sectors, such as financial, banking, audit, accounting, commercial legal services and real estate transactions. There are many young Cypriots traditionally studying in Romanian universities and an important and steadily growing number of Cypriots tourists visiting Romania. On the other hand, around 40.000 Romanian citizens are living and working in Cyprus and more than 60.000 Romanians who have chosen Cyprus for their holidays every year.
The anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Cyprus gives us the opportunity to reflect on the 59 years of life of the Republic of Cyprus and the relations between Cyprus and Romania. Despite the difficulties over the years, the Republic of Cyprus continues to develop and thrive as a modern European state and as a pillar of security and prosperity in the area of the Eastern Mediterranean. Based on a solid background, the close and continuously expanding relations and cooperation between Cyprus and Romania are further strengthened and intensifying. Having a very positive and promising record at present, the two friendly countries have every reason to look forward into the future with reinforced confidence and optimism.