Sri Lanka has the warmest wishes of the Republic of Cyprus with regard to the hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November, and he is himself looking forward to attending the Summit in Colombo, Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, said in Nicosia on Friday.
He made these remarks when Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, called on him at the Presidential Palace.
Minister Peiris briefed President Anastasiades on Sri Lanka’s progress with regard to development and reconciliation. President Anastasiades welcomed Prof. Peiris warmly, and said that the Minister’s visit has special significance at a time when Sri Lanka and Cyprus are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Minister recalled the visit of Archbishop Makarios, the first President of Cyprus, to Sri Lanka in 1976 to attend the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Colombo that year.
During their bilateral discussions the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka and Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, agreed on immediate steps for the establishment of a mechanism for regular bilateral consultations between the two Foreign Ministries with a view to identifying areas for further co-operation. It was agreed to have a series of agreements on areas such as avoidance of double taxation and air services, ready for signing when Foreign Minister Kasoulides accompanies President Anastasiades to Colombo for the Commonwealth Summit. The Government of Cyprus also showed great interest in arranging for business leaders from Cyprus to attend the Business Forum, to be held on the sidelines of CHOGM. The Ministers noted that Cyprus Airways used to fly twice a week to Colombo between 2002 and 2004, and agreed to expand the scope of collaboration between the two countries in the tourism sector.
Given the distinguished record of the Foreign Minister of Cyprus as a former member of the European Parliament and a full member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and also considering the position of Cyprus as occupying the Presidency of the European Union last year, Prof. Peiris made use of the discussion with Foreign Minister Kasoulides to focus on Sri Lanka’s relationship with the European Union, with particular reference to the revival of the Joint Commission mechanism, the upcoming meetings at official level and the contemplated trajectory of relations in the near future.
At his meeting with Mrs. Zeta Emilianidou, Minister of Labour and Social Insurance of Cyprus, Minister Peiris referred to the significant number of Sri Lankans employed in Cyprus and said that the country is keen to explore avenues to secure more employment opportunities in the skilled categories for our people in Cyprus. Minister Emilianidou expressed support for this proposal.
During bilateral discussions in the Parliament of Cyprus between Minister Peiris and Yiannakis Omirou, President of the House of Representatives, the Ministers noted the establishment of a Sri Lanka – Cyprus Parliamentary Friendship Association this year, and resolved to take steps to further strengthen contact between the parliaments of the two countries.
Prof. Peiris also met with Averof Neofytou, President of the Cyprus-Sri Lanka Friendship Group in Nicosia.