Cyprus President Hails Friendship with Armenia, Pledges Support on EU Neighborhood Program

NICOSIA (Armenpress)–A wide range of issues was discussed Thursday during a meeting between Armenian and Cypriot presidents Robert Kocharian and Tassos Papadopoulos, and consultations between the two countries’ leaders. During the negotiations an agreement on fighting organized crime was signed and task forces were assigned to develop concrete proposals and programs for boosting cooperation. At a press conference which followed the negotiations the presidents of the two countries specifically pointed to the warm and productive atmosphere maintained during the entire process of negotiations. "We had a very productive discussion and tried to gain practical solutions and suggestions," Kocharian said. Papadopoulos noted that both during personal and official meetings the Cypriot side assured the Armenian president that it was ready to boost bilateral relations between the two countries and expand cooperation. "Cyprus will speak in favor of Armenia in all international and political issues," the Cypriot president stated. In the implementation of agreemen’s, the president underscored the role of the Armenian community, which, according to Papadopoulos, is a sophisticated community and is leading in all the spheres. "Relations between our peoples and countries are very warm and there exists an effective dialogue which we tired to expand today particularly in the economic sphere," said Kocharian. The Armenian president said Armenia and Cyprus have always defended each other in different international establishmen’s. He said Armenia had great expectations in acquiring experience of Cyprus in the implementation of reforms within the frameworks of the EU’s New Neighborhood Policy. Cyprus expressed readiness to support and cooperate with Armenia in this field. "From the very first moment, Cyprus was for the inclusion of Armenia in the EU’s New Neighborhood program, which supposes a great number of reforms. We are ready to support in their practical implementation," the Cypriot president said. The reporters present at the conference were interested in the approaches the sides had over Turkey’s membership to EU. "Turkey has assumed these commitmen’s on its own wish. All the countries agree that Turkey must implement its commitmen’s but at the same time they do not want negotiations to be suspended. Punitive measures must be undertaken to show Turkey that it must be conscientious. At present, the measures that need to be taken are under discussion," president of Cyprus said. Kocharian said that Armenia was interested in the issue as it concerned Turkey’s willingness and readiness to regulate its relations with neighboring countries, including Armenia. "It is important to see whether Turkey membership process will be conducted fully or not. This will directly influence Armenian-Turkish relations," Armenian president said. "We would like to see the Cyprus issue regulated in the way in which the people and government of Cyprus envision it," Kocharian added, in response to Armenia’s view on the 32-year-old conflict stemming from Turkey’s invasion of the Mediterranean island. Kocharian also announced his personal invitation to the Cypriot president to visit Armenia. Kocharian also met with speaker of the Cypriot House of Representatives Demetris Khristofias. The latter said that they have reached agreemen’s over consolidation of political partnership, expansion of legislative cooperation which will bring to the development of cooperation in economic, cultural, tourism and other areas. "Good ties exist between the parliamen’s of the two countries but it is necessary to carry out more effective projects to further develop those ties," Khristofias said at a press conference that followed the meeting. On the second day of the official visit to Cyprus, Kocharian visited Nicosia, where he met with the city’s Mayor Mikhail Zampelas, who characterized Kocharian’s first visit to Cyprus as a testament to the friendship and respect established between the two countries and the two peoples. Giving a short outline of the historic events which took place in Nicosia, the mayor outlined the important role of the Armenia’s played in the political, economic, cultural and educational life of the city. "The membership of Cyprus in the EU brings new challenges, but at the same time it gives us the strength and the will to return the territories occupied by Turks and build a new Cyprus where Greeks, Cypriots, Armenia’s and other peoples will have an opportunity to create a prosperous future," Zampelas said. At the end of the meeting, Kocharian was awarded the Golden Key of Nicosia and a declaration. After the meeting the president and the members of the delegation, accompanied by the mayor, visited the ancient town and cease-fire zone and became acquainted with the situation there. The president of Armenia also visited St. Mary’s Church in Nicosia. "At the meetings, there was not an official or a political figure who would not mention the positive role of the Armenian community in the process of the development of Cyprus," Kocharian said in the church where a great number of representatives of the Armenian community gathered. Referring to the goals of the visit, the Armenian president said that the aim was to develop economic, humanitarian, educational and cultural cooperation with Cyprus. "A great number of meetings have been conducted not only with my participation. Here present are representatives of the Armenian business circles and we will be trying to register a progress until the visit of the Cyprus president to Armenia next year," Kocharian said. The president also underscored the existence of Armenian schools in Cyprus which are being financed by the state. "Always remember that you are Cypriot Armenia’s and your historic homeland is Armenia," concluded the president. Afterward he laid a wreath on the memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide in the yard of the church. He also visited "Nareg" Armenian college where the students gave performances. The college has its schools in Larnaca and Limasol. On the second half of the day Kocharian and his delegation visited Larnaca, which is the second largest Armenian-populated city in Cyprus. "Larnaca is the first city which welcomed the vessels transporting Armenia’s who escaped the genocide," said Larnaca mayor Andreas Moiseos at the official dinner held in honor of the Armenian president. He said that friendly relations exist between the two peoples and they are being consolidated even more by the historic issues connected with Turkey. "We are well aware of the difficulties that Armenia has but we are sure that the Armenian people with their progressive ideas will successfully overcome the challenges they are facing," the mayor of Larnaca said. "By the state visit to the friendly country we expect serious progress in bilateral relations," the president of Armenia’said. But according to him, the cooperation will not be complete if it is established only between the governmen’s and central authorities. The president praised the support of Larnaca in building a genocide memorial monument, the designer of which is Cypriot sculptor Angelos Demitry. The monument will be erected in one of the main streets of the town and will be 4.5 meters high. The president laid the foundation stone of the monument. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said that the monument is dedicated not only to the victims of the Armenian genocide but also to those Armenia’s who escaped and found their shelter here, in Cyprus. "This monument also symbolizes the ancient-long Armenian-Cypriot friendship," the foreign minister said.

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