Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made joint statements with the newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Monday, the first following the election of the new Cypriot President.
The prime minister began with a reference to the tragic accident in Tempi.
After wishing Christodoulides good luck in his work and congratulating him on his election, Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasised: "Unfortunately, our meeting takes place under heavy clouds of sorrow."
"In this horrible accident, two young people from Cyprus also lost their lives. We are determined to change what has hurt us. The shortcomings of decades and unacceptable behaviour of government employees from the past."
"I will be the first in the battle to uproot every islet of the old, anachronistic state".
The prime minister added: "Our people are together in this incident. Throughout time we are side by side, on the same side with the same feelings."
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Mitsotakis said, addressing Christodoulides: "Indeed you took over in the midst of great political volatility. Today it is more necessary than ever to strengthen the mobilisation of Greece and Cyprus."
He also noted: "I am ready to continue our great common vision for the solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN resolutions. The next European Council will focus on critical issues concerning both Greece and Cyprus. Your presence begins very dynamically."
The prime minister also referred to the migration issue, saying that "in migration, we will continue to support the interests of the 'front-line' member-states."
Speaking of Greek-Turkish relations, he noted that "after a long period of unacceptable provocations and aggressive behaviour, we are experiencing a de-escalation and a more positive attitude today. I want to hope that such an improvement can have an impact on Cyprus as well."
Concluding his statements, the Greek prime minister said to the President of the Republic of Cyprus: "If Turkish intransigence blocked every step, your experience as foreign minister makes me more optimistic."
"The dialogue on the Cyprus issue must be started, with possibly greater European involvement."
Finally, Mitsotakis announced the establishment of a supreme cooperation council between the two countries.
"I believe that in our first meeting we will be able to discuss matters of common interest and set common goals. We continue our common course with Athens always on the side of the Republic of Cyprus," he added.
Christodoulides: EU must be more actively engaged in efforts to end the deadlock and resume talks
Christodoulides, on his part, emphasised the important symbolism of his visit, while calling for a more active EU engagement in efforts to resume talks on the Cyprus issue.
"The semantics of the first visit of the president of the Cyprus Republic to Greece are extremely important and also send a clear message regarding the level of our relations and the fraternal bonds between the two countries," Christodoulides said.
"My first visit as President of the Republic of Cyprus to Greece does not only have symbolic importance, however, but very substantial importance when taking into account the joint challenges that we have to face, as well as our joint ambitions on both a bilateral and a regional level, as well as within our common European family."
The president of Cyprus similarly began his statements by expressing his condolences for the tragedy in Tempi, saying that Cyprus supports and grieves alongside Greece.
"We had the opportunity to discuss the Cyprus issue, where among others I briefed the prime minister in detail about the need for a more active engagement of the European Union in the effort to break through the deadlock in the Cyprus issue and for talks to resume," he added.
"We are well aware that the situation is not easy, we are aware of the difficulties, but at the same time we have a strong conviction that the present state of affairs cannot be the solution of the Cyprus problem. Cyprus cannot remain divided and under occupation."
Meanwhile, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Monday, welcoming Christodoulides to the Presidential Mansion on his first official visit to Athens after assuming his new duties, that "the Cyprus issue is a constant concern and a top national priority of Greek foreign policy."
Sakellaropoulou congratulated Christodoulides and wished him every success in his demanding work, underlining at the same time that his visit to Athens is overshadowed by the train accident, which cost the lives of so many young people, including two Cypriot students, and she expressed her sincere condolences.
"I would like to emphasise once again that the Cyprus issue is a constant concern and a top national priority of Greek foreign policy" Sakellaropoulou noted.
"A guarantee of effectiveness for this matter and its resolution is the close cooperation and coordination of Greece with the Republic of Cyprus, both bilaterally and at the multilateral regional level, which has already made our countries a guarantee and a source of security and stability in Eastern Mediterranean."
She also pointed out that "the common goal of our countries, as always, is that of reaching an agreed solution based on the decisions of the United Nations Security Council."
"A solution that will ensure the liberation of Cyprus from the anachronistic system of guarantees and the right to intervene in Cypriot affairs, as well as the withdrawal of the occupation troops and, of course, the application of the European Union's acquis communautaire throughout Cyprus."
On his part, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, after thanking Sakellaropoulou for her warm welcome and wishes, conveyed his deepest condolences on behalf of the Cypriot people for the tragic incident in Tempi.
As he pointed out "Greece and Cyprus, Cyprus and Greece are mourning and it is the responsibility of all of us, who are in positions of power, and the best memorial for all those who lost their lives unjustly, to do whatever is possible so that such incidents do not happen again."
"We will do everything humanly possible to break through the deadlock, to achieve the goal of liberating and reuniting Cyprus on the basis of the agreed framework. And it is within this context that we believe that the European Union can play a decisive role," he underlined.
Christodoulides also noted that "the Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the European Union and will continue to be so even after a possible solution to the Cyprus issue. The European Union has all those incentives to lead to a mutually acceptable state of affairs."
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