NICOSIA(Combined Sources) — Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian unveiled a cross stone, a gift from the people of Armenia to the people of Cyprus, as a symbol of their friendship, on Wednesday. The unveiled cross stone was a replica of an Old Julfa cross stone.
The unveiling ceremony took place outside the premises of the Protocol Division of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Addressing the ceremony, both Presidents underlined the long-standing historic and friendly ties between the peoples of both countries.
Anastasiades said at the cross stone’s unveiling that both countries have been “victims of the same aggressiveness” and have fought for the prevalence of the principles of law in the international arena.
He added that against all odds, Cyprus and Armenia must intensify their bilateral cooperation and join forces so that their struggle is vindicated.
Anastasiades recalled that Cyprus was one of the first European countries which recognized the Armenian genocide, noting that “we jointly denounce the perpetrators of this crime.”
He underlined that “our countries, our peoples, place faith on international law and respect the peoples` sovereign right to decide their future and to function with respect to human rights.”
Moreover, Anastasiades highlighted the active and important role of the Armenian refugees` ancestors, living on the island, in Cypriot society.
Sarkisan added that this Cross Stone will represent a reminder to Armenia and Armenian people living in Cyprus as proof of long-lasting Armenian-Cypriot friendship.
“It will give the message that any destruction of cultural monuments constitutes a crime against humanity,” added Sarkisan. “It will remind civilized humanity that it must struggle so that unique historic items of civilization must not be threatened by violence.”
Moreover, the Armenia President stressed the importance of the Cross Stone to Armenia’s history and long-standing cultural heritage, adding that it is included among UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.
On Wednesday Sarkisian also visited the Nareg School in Nicosia and the Armenian Genocide Monument.
Sarkisian was accompanied by Cyprus’ Education and Culture Minister Costas Kadis, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou, and Nareg School Director Vera Tahmajian.
The Armenian President attended a ceremony organized by students at the school with traditional Armenian songs, dances and poems.
At the opening of the event, Tahmajian welcomed Sarkisian to the school, saying that his presence, as well as that of the government officials, demonstrates their support to the school and cultural heritage.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sarkisian held a meeting with Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II.
The Armenia President signed the book of visitors at the Archbishopric, in which he stressed the friendly relations between both Cyprus and Armenia.
Sarkisian had arrived to Cyprus on March 15 with an official delegation.
Prior to the unveiling of the cross stone which took place on March 16, President Sarkisian had a meeting with Anastasiades where the two countries signed three agreements.
The first was an intergovernmental agreement for the mutual recognition of diplomas of study, while the other two were cooperation programs for Education and Sciences, as well as Culture, for the period 2016-2020.
The agreements were signed by Cypriot Education minister Costas Kadis, and Armenian Education minister Levon Mkrtchyan and Culture minister Hasmik Poghosyan.
The Armenian president welcomed the support Cyprus has shown his country, evident in the visits by Anastasiades and House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, as well as the voting of a resolution by Cypriot parliament for the criminalization of denying the Armenian genocide.
Sarkisian also thanked the people of Cyprus for reaffirming their support and solidarity to the Armenian people on the centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide last year. Armenia fully supports efforts to solve the Cyprus problem on the basis of United Nations’ resolutions, President Serzh Sarkisan said.
He added that he appreciates Cyprus’ position on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, and noted that his country supports a solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN resolutions.
“I hope there won’t be any obtrusive interfering, and that President Anastasiades’ systematic efforts will yield results soon,” Sarkisian said.
Anastasiades pointed out that the brotherly bonds between Cyprus and Armenia are primarily affirmed by the active presence of the Armenian community in Cyprus, which, although harmoniously assimilated into Cypriot culture, continues to honor its own culture, heritage, language and religious identity.
He added that Cyprus is a steadfast supporter of the strengthening of Armenia’s ties with the European Union in every aspect of cooperation.
Anastasiades assured his Armenian counterpart that Cyprus looks forward to further strengthening relations between Cyprus and Armenia, which are “not merely close and sincere, but primarily fraternal.” Following the speeches, Anastasiades hosted a dinner in honor of the Armenian president.