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Portuguese prime minister in 'historic' visit.

President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday called the arrival of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa a historic moment for the relations of the two countries since it is the first ever visit of a Portuguese leader to Cyprus.

Cyprus and Portugal have agreed to strengthen ties, announcing their intention to organise a business forum to further cooperation on maritime science and to share best practices in tourism.

Costa is on the island on an official visit and to also participate in the fifth MED-7 Summit of the seven southern countries of the EU, taking place on Tuesday afternoon, in Nicosia. Anastasiades will also host French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell at the Filoxenia Conference Centre, in Nicosia.

The Portuguese prime minister was welcomed on Tuesday morning at the Presidential Palace by Anastasiades. Costa laid a wreath at the statue of Archbishop Makarios III, the first president of Cyprus, in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace.

Subsequently, the two heads of state held a private meeting which was followed by expanded talks between delegations of the two countries.

Anastasiades later on said Costa's visit constituted "a historic moment for the relations of our two countries, since it is the first ever visit of a Portuguese Prime Minister to the Republic of Cyprus.

"Cyprus and Portugal share long-standing ties of friendship and have always enjoyed excellent relations, both at the level of government and of our peoples," Anastasiades added.

This, he said, is a relationship greatly valued by Cyprus and which the two countries jointly aspire to further reinforce and strengthen.

"Today, we have held very constructive consultations where we reviewed the architecture of our cooperation and discussed a number of ways to further expand our relations, both bilaterally and within the context of the European Union," he said.

He added that Cyprus and Portugal converge in a vast field of areas and synergies such as trade and investment, shipping, energy, education and culture.

"To this end, we endeavour to continue our high-level dialogue, so as to identify opportunities for closer cooperation between Cyprus and Portugal," Anastasiades said.

Costa said that he was very honoured to be the first Portuguese Prime Minister to officially visit Cyprus.

"Geographically we are on opposite extremes of our continent but we are very close, sharing a common vision about the future of the European Union, the most important challenges we need to face at European level and in the wish to strengthen our bilateral relations," he said.

Portugal, he added, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations in 2013 and upgraded its diplomatic representation to Ambassador level in 2014. "We are looking to increase political consultations. Our trade relations are slowly expanding but they are still modest. Considering the structures of both economies there is clear room for improvement, not only in traditional sectors but also in more technological areas."

He said that during their talks they identified three specific events they need to concentrate efforts on.

"First of all, on the organising of a Business Forum to bring our entrepreneurial communities in contact and strengthen the people to people contact. Secondly to increase our cooperation in the scientific domain, especially maritime science. Finally, to share best practices in the tourism sector."

Anastasiades said that he also briefed Costa on the implementation of Cyprus' hydrocarbon exploration programme and how the country can contribute substantially to the European Union's energy security and diversification of sources and routes.

He also briefed Costa on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EUPR
Date:Jan 29, 2019
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