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Speech by H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades at the Banquet hosted by H.E. the President of the Republic of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee (28 April 2017, New Delhi)


28 April 2017, New Delhi

Mr. President,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Distinguished Ministers,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

First and foremost, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for your kind words, and for the exceptionally warm hospitality that has been extended to me, and to the members of my delegation, on this much-anticipated visit to India.

I am incredibly honoured and moved to be in India, this truly great nation. You have struck the difficult balance between tradition and innovation, home to some of the world’s most ancient civilisations and most forward-thinking ideas. You are the largest democracy in the world, emerging as an economic leader, a major regional and indeed global player. India’s glorious past serves as a springboard into a future from which all countries have much to learn.

Mr. President,

You eloquently touched upon the historically close and special bonds of kinship and cooperation between our countries. Cyprus and India share a deep, strong friendship that is time-tested, and which is founded on a common adherence to democratic values, norms, and principles. Our two countries hold sacred and celebrate peace, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the respect for rule of law and the safeguarding of diversity.

India has in many ways been an inspiration for Cyprus. Today I had the exceptional privilege to lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation, who led it through the realization of self-determination, and who has since become a universal symbol of peace and humanity. India’s independence struggle from British colonial rule directly inspired Cyprus’s independence struggle in the 1950s. Indeed, Cyprus has remained deeply appreciative of the support India rendered to the Cypriot struggle against British colonialism.

Since the founding of our own nation, India has been one of the most trustworthy and reliable friends of Cyprus. It is in the context of this special relationship that I have bestowed on you the Grand Collar of Makarios the third, the highest order of merit awarded by Cyprus, named after President Makarios III, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, who maintained a close personal relationship with India.

Mr. President,

Cyprus, and I personally, are grateful to the Government and the people of India for its steadfast and unwavering support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, and to our tireless efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, and unite Cyprus and its people through a comprehensive settlement in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions and EU law.

My Government is firmly committed to ending the illegal Turkish military occupation of Cyprus through a comprehensive settlement, based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, with a single sovereignty, single international personality, and a single citizenship. There is no room for any anachronistic system of security and guarantees by third countries for a fully independent, sovereign country and member state of the European Union.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

My visit to India constitutes not only a tribute to our strong common history, but also a token of my deep respect for India and its people. I believe the discussions we have engaged in this week will serve as a stepping stone to further strengthening our relations, at both a bilateral and multilateral level, including the United Nations and the European Union.

I am convinced that cooperation at multiple levels can and must be further enhanced. The raw ingredients sit before us: the emergence of India on the global economic scene; its achievements in an array of fields such as technology; Cyprus’s strategic location and highly developed infrastructure; Cyprus’s membership of the EU; our favorable business and investment-friendly environment. We must explore actively how we can tap these resources for the prosperity of both our great countries.

It is for this reason that I have travelled to India with a sizeable business delegation, and have participated in two business forums, both in Mumbai and New Delhi, where businessmen from our countries explored the potential for further cooperation.

But that conversation requires nurture, cultivation, and continued support. While I am proud that Cyprus is the 8th larger investor in India, there is certainly immense unexplored potential in the economic, scientific, tourist, and technical sectors, to name just a few industries where mutual benefit is well within reach.

The agreements signed today in the fields of merchant shipping, aviation, agriculture, culture, and education, as well as our decision to form a Ministerial Working Group, will certainly enhance the platform from which such cooperation can take place.

Moreover, we stand firmly and actively behind the EU-India partnership. You can rest assured that Cyprus will continue to act as your ambassador in Brussels. We believe that it is an indispensable, mutually beneficial relationship. As the EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini stated during her recent visit to India last week, the EU and India are natural partners, sharing fundamental values and interests. We will stand firmly behind deepening cooperation between EU and India.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I invite you to join me in raising a toast,

- to the good health and personal well-being of the President of India, H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee,
- to the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of India
- to the long-standing friendship between India and Cyprus and its further enhancement.

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