Greece and Cyprus Presidents meet for first time

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou held talks with her Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Mansion in Athens on Tuesday.

During their meeting, Sakellaropoulou stressed that “Greece will continue to stand firmly by the side of the Republic of Cyprus and to fully support the efforts to find a viable and operational solution, based on the relevant decisions of the UN Security Council and the European acquis.”

She also noted that his visit takes place in the heavy shadow of Turkey’s recent decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.

‘”It is a decision that has irreparably hit Hellenism and the Christian world. It also deeply hurts all those who, regardless of their religious beliefs, realise that a foremost monument for humanity, such as Hagia Sophia, can not be instrumentalised in order to serve goals that are foreign to it and its inter-religious radiance,” Greece’s president stated.

At the same time, she pointed out that Hagia Sophia, as part of the world’s cultural heritage, has managed in the last century to function as a place of unity and meeting of cultures and the peaceful coexistence of religions.”Its conversion into a mosque alienates Turkey from the values of the secular state and the principles of tolerance and pluralism and inadvertently divides our region.”

On his part, Anastasiades congratulated Sakellaropoulou on taking office and invited her to Cyprus in September. “I hope, and it will be a special honour for us but also joy for the Cypriot Hellenism because symbolism always has its meaning. The importance attached to the timeless support to Cyprus,” he said.

“The main concern is how the international community behaves in the face of a force that unfortunately interprets international law as they try to achieve a revisionist and anti-candidate behaviour. In other words, it does not comply with the minimum rules of a candidate country, it blatantly violates international law, it violates every principle and value offensively for Europe,” Anastasiades added.

The Cypriot President noted that he was in Greece in order to discuss the efforts for the supremacy of peace. “Neither Greece nor Cyprus seek escalation. On the contrary, what we seek is the supremacy of what is universally accepted, that is, the supremacy of law.”