President of Cyrpus Makes Historic Visit to Georgia

The President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, paid his country’s first official presidential visit to Georgia in the 27-year history of diplomatic relations between the countries, on April 16 - 18. While in Tbilisi, Anastasiades was hosted by his counterpart, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, in the Avlabari Presidential Palace. Although Zurabishvili has chosen to live at the historic, more modest Orbeliani Residence, the Presidential Palace is still host to official ceremonies and receptions.

“Cyprus and Georgia crossed a historic day in their bilateral relations today. President Anastasiades, welcome to Georgia and I look forward to the productive conversations we are set to have in the next two days,” tweeted Zurabishvili prior to their meeting. Zurabishvili and Anastasiades signed agreements related to healthcare, agriculture, and the exchange of classified information.

At a joint press conference on Wednesday, the pair announced that a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral will be built in Cyprus. Anastasiades underlined the many years of strong relations between Cyprus and Georgia, saying the construction of the church confirms their special relationship. “The existence of Georgians in Cyprus dates back centuries. Georgians appeared in Cyprus in the 10th century,” he explained, adding “I feel at home in Georgia.”

In Paphos, a small city on the southwest coast of Cyprus, archeological excavations recently revealed the ruins of a monastery built by Georgian monks, which was abandoned in 1571 after being raided. “In order to celebrate our centuries-old relationship, Cyprus has handed over a plot of land to Georgia in order to build a new monastery in the region where the ruins of the Georgian church are,” Anastasiades declared.

Zurabishvili also spoke of the lessons Georgia can take from Cyrpus’ experience of EU integration, including the “painful issue of occupation” that both nations face. She emphasized that both Cyprus and Georgia have decided that their conflicts will only be settled by peaceful means. Anastasiades reciprocated the desire to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

The importance of boosting economic relations between Georgia and Cyprus was underlined with a business forum on April 18, co-organized by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, and Industry of Cyprus, in co-operation with the Cyprus-Georgia Business Association and Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation (OEB).

On Wednesday, Anastasiades met with Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze. Bakhtadze and Anastasiades spoke on several issues – notably, migration. They agreed that both countries will take steps to facilitate the circular migration of migrant workers and work towards a mutually beneficial migration plan. The Prime Minister’s press office shared that the meeting’s main topics were the “further strengthening of people-to-people relations, tourism and economic relations.” After the meeting, Bakhtadze thanked the President of Cyprus for visiting Georgia and, on behalf of the population, expressed gratitude for Cyprus’ support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In addition to the Business Forum, on Thursday, Anastasiades met with the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II. The majority of the population of Cyprus are members of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

BY Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Press Office of the President of Georgia

18 April 2019 16:46