Nicosia, (SANA) – President Bashar Al-Assad and President Demetris Christofias of Cyprus held talks at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia on Thursday.

In a joint press conference following his talks with President Christofias, President Al-Assad stressed that Syria and Cyprus share a deep-rooted history, sea and wonderful nature, and the relations binding them are special like any two neighboring countries which have common historical relations.

President Al-Assad added that the Syrian-Cypriot relations are built on common interests, friendship and the reciprocal support of national causes.

President Al-Assad indicated that the relations with Cyprus exist since the Phoenician Era and they were further enhanced after the independence, particularly during the reign of leaders Makarios and Hafez Al-Assad.

President Al-Assad said that Syrian-Cypriot talks are based on the special positions of Syria and Cyprus, adding that Cyprus, being an EU member, has significant advantage as common denominator between the two regions in culture, economy and politics.

The president added that Syria is a direct neighboring country to the European Union due to its proximity to Cyprus, thus giving Cyprus a very important advantage within the EU through its involvement in our complicated issues and is directly influenced  by them, enabling it to help the EU understand the facts, activate the European role the way we seek and make the European initiatives towards the region a success.

President Al-Assad said the talks were clear, transparent and in-depth, tackling issues related to further strengthening the Syrian-Cypriot relations.

He added that "I agreed with the Cypriot President on the need for achieving peace in the region and that negotiations are the only way to achieve it and bring things back to normal among all.

He indicated that the Cypriot President stressed on the importance of restoring the occupied Golan and committing to the international legitimacy to make peace.

President Al-Assad thanked the Cyprus government for its stance towards the Golan since it is an EU member state.

He said that belonging to the major gatherings is useful and important but it doesn’t eliminate the main belonging of any state.

President Al-Assad said the talks also dealt with the Cypriot issue and President Christofias' initiative to solve it peacefully through negotiations, adding that "we agreed that the joint national issues to be solved using the same means of solution."

President Al-Assad said that Cypriot President's visit to Syria last year supported the bilateral relations, yet they are still modest somehow. The solution for that could be achieved through activating the joint committee and signing the agreements as a first step.

President Al-Assad added "we should work on establishing a transport line for passengers as we should focus on investment in the field of services, banking, tourism and medium and small-sized investments in the field of renewable energy."

He underlined that Syria and Cyprus could be a natural bridge between the East and the West provided that relations between the two countries are upgraded to the popular level in all spheres.

President Christofias expressed happiness over the visit of the friendly President Bashar Al-Assad and Mrs. Al-Assad to Cyprus, considering that the visit is a historic event as it is the first visit by Syrian President to the country.

The Cypriot President said that his talks with President Al-Assad centered on means of developing the bilateral relations and benefiting from the distinguished geographical location of both countries, in addition to the role Syria plays in the Arab region and Cyprus' role in Europe.

President Christofias added "We agreed on the joint work to support cooperation in the domain of business and joint investments in our countries in the domains of tourism, facilities, energy, transport, education, services, communications and other spheres in the private and public sectors."

President Christofias considered that signing five agreements and the two sides commitment to continuing negotiations on the remaining agreements as soon as possible is an important step in this direction.

President Christofias said" I stressed Cyprus' firm stance in supporting the efforts which aim at finding a solution to the issue of the Middle East based on of the international legitimacy principles and the UN resolutions."

The President voiced his country's support for establishing an independent Palestinian state and its rejection of the Israeli settlement in the occupied Arab territories and the separation wall, in addition to any measures violating the rights of the Palestinian people and blocking their struggle for independence.

He stressed that peace can not prevail in the Middle East without a solution based on the UN Security Council resolutions and the international legitimacy, in addition to the restoration of the occupied Syrian Golan.

President Christofias considered that exchanging both countries' High Medals by the two presidents is another evidence of friendship and special relations between the two countries.

Presidents Al-Assad and Christofias stressed the importance of dialogue and finding a peaceful solution to the Cypriot issue.

President Al-Assad expressed happiness to be the first Syrian President to visit Cyprus Island and to enhance the historical bilateral relations, which have been built on friendship, along with the friendly President Christofias.

President Christofias said" During our discussions I informed President Al-Assad of the latest developments of the Cypriot issue and the suggestions I have recently proposed to support the process of negotiations as I explained to him its details, and he expressed a great interest, and I thank him for it."

"I reiterated our commitment to finding a just solution that would reunite Cypriot state, people, institutions and economy based on the international legitimacy resolutions to reach a united country which fully respects the rights of all of its citizens," President Christofias added.

The President said "I affirmed to President Al-Assad that we will continue to sit together to the negotiation table with a good will and suggestions that would support the peaceful process."

President Bashar Al-Assad on Thursday said over many centuries of cultural contact, the two peoples in Syria and Cyprus have been able to achieve a civilization unity which we still feel its positive effects till now.

President Al-Assad's remarks came during a dinner banquet held in his and Mrs. Asma Al-Assad's honor by President Demetris Christofias of Cyprus and Mrs. Christofias, attended by members of the two official delegations.

"Our joint determination to develop economic relations necessitates that we invest the natural advantages we have in terms of our unique position in order to deepen cooperation relations between us through establishing joint economic projects and providing more facilitations to the businessmen in our two countries," President Al-Assad in his speech.

He noted that what blocks stability and security in the region is Israel's continued occupation of the Arab territories and its response to the calls of peace with more aggressions and settlements.

The President added that the peoples of the world have looked with great hope at the ships aimed at breaking the siege on Gaza loaded with medicine and food, which have been urgently needed by the Palestinian people under the Israeli inhumane siege in place for so long.

President Al-Assad expressed Syria's appreciation of the honorable stances of Cyprus at the UN General Assembly and its support to Syria's right to restore the occupied Syrian Golan.

President Al-Assad stressed Syria's support to intensifying efforts aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus issue, highlighting the necessity of overcoming all the difficulties that hinder finding a just solution to this issue.

For his part, President Christofias described President Al-Assad's visit as "historic" being the first by a Syrian president to Cyprus, pointing out that bilateral relations between the two countries have a historical dimension and they are based on the traditional ties of friendship and mutual understanding.

He noted that this visit was an opportunity to discuss means of supporting bilateral cooperation in a number of fields including trade, tourism, constructions and energy.

"The distinguished geographical position of the two countries and the important role of Syria in the Arab World and that of Cyprus in Europe are a real advantage that pushes toward more development of cooperation and activation of the economic and trade activities," President Christofias said.

He stressed that the new agreements signed during the visit are a tangible evidence of the two sides desire to continue promoting relations in various fields in the interests of the two peoples.

He reiterated his country's stance stressing the importance of finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Middle East issue according to the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, considering that there can not be a solution to this issue without returning the occupied Golan to Syria.

In the second day of his visit, the Syrian-Cypriot Business Council kicked off  in the presence of President Al-Assad and President Christofias of Cyprus.

President Al-Assad, in a speech at the opening of the Council, said Syria and Cyprus and their two peoples and cultures share a long history of ties that go back to thousands of years.

The President stressed Syria's firm desire to push the Syrian-Cypriot relations forward and explore cooperation prospects that may help achieve national interests looking towards a promising future through establishing a partnership based on our common interests and priorities.

President Al-Assad noted that the countries of the region are facing a number of similar challenges which can not be confronted without dialogue, cooperation and partnership based on mutual understanding and common aspirations.

The President said "the Middle East is geographically the heart of the world, and we believe that Syria is politically at the heart of the Middle East. We can define countries by their seas in the same way they are defined by their borders."

"Syria is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean forming the gate to a larger and bigger region bordered by five seas (the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Gulf). This region, located between Asia, Africa and Europe, is considered the center in which most of the goods transactions are conducted," President Al-Assad added.

The President emphasized that "Our vision is to invest this central position to establish a sprawling network of trade, transport and energy distribution through Syria, allowing more efficient and less expensive flow of gas, oil, electricity and goods."

President Al-Assad indicated that Syria spared no effort to achieve this strategic vision, stressing that through the bilateral and regional agreements signed, our region would guarantee comprehensive growth and sustainable development.

He underscored the importance of strategic initiatives which pave the way for the national small and medium-sized institutions to work and prosper through a comprehensive program for human capability building, which is considered the core of development.

The President pointed out that the Syrian-Cypriot Business Council meeting will open new doors and new partnerships between the companies and businessmen in both countries, and will help provide promising opportunities for growth, adding that what is important is that the meeting come out with practical and tangible steps to be supported by the governments.

For his part, the Cypriot President said in his speech that establishing a strong relationship between Syria and Cyprus is of a special importance for the economies of the two countries and helps in promoting bilateral relations particularly in the fields of trade, investment and tourism.

President Christofias expressed his country's welcome of the joint investments with Syria, considering that Cyprus, being a member of the EU, provides attractive advantages and opportunities for investments and can be a gate for Syria to the EU countries.

He pointed out that the Council's meeting allows the businessmen from both sides the opportunity to explore areas and aspects of initiatives for establishing joint projects and expanding cooperation in the economic, industrial and tourist fields.



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