By Andrestinos Papadopoulos
The success of any presidential visit is assessed by the degree of similarity of views on as many of the issues under discussion, the will to strengthen relations between the two countries – in this case France and Cyprus – and the actions contributing towards this end. President Anastasiades’ visit to France, the first to an EU country after the traditional visit to Greece, satisfied all these criteria and should be considered most successful.
In the first place, the visit confirmed the excellent bilateral relations which cover a wide range of issues – political, economic, defence, energy, culture, etc. In order to help Cyprus overcome its economic difficulties, France will support Cyprus’ efforts to benefit as much as possible from the structural funds of the EU, with a view to achieving development.
There was full agreement concerning the need to achieve a better balance between austerity and development, as reflected in the Hollande-Merkel declaration of May 30, aiming at stability and development in Europe. In this regard, mention should be made of the statement by President Anastasiades that his views on the issue were much more aligned with Hollande than with other leaders’ views, even if they belong to his own political family. Development, as is understood by France, has a social dimension, as well as elements of solidarity, which are today necessary to combat euroskepticism, particularly in the south of Europe.
Concerning the Cyprus problem, Cyprus enjoys the full support of France within the framework of international legality, the need to start negotiations in October is well understood and it is made patently clear that France’s rapprochement with Turkey does not affect in any way its stand on the Cyprus problem.
The region of the Eastern Mediterranean is a zone of strategic importance to France, and its stability is of particular concern to French interests: hence, the permanent presence of a French naval force in the region and the frequent visits of the French air force. Within this framework, President Hollande’s acceptance of the invitation by President Anastasiades to visit Cyprus acquires a particular importance. It will be the first visit of a French President to Cyprus and he will be welcomed as a real and true friend.
It is only natural that President Anastasiades expressed his full satisfaction with the results of his first presidential visit to France. In this respect, special tribute should be paid to the French ambassador in Nicosia, Jean-Luc Florent for the hard work he put in preparing for the visit. Judging from the results, the praise is richly deserved.
Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos is a former ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus