By Jean Christou
CYPRUS and Bahrain on Monday signed a series of agreements, including deals on tax issues, terrorism and crime. Bahrain will also for the first time ever, accredit an ambassador to Cyprus.
The agreements were signed as part of President Nicos Anastasiades` official visit to the Arab country.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides signed the agreements on behalf of Cyprus with the Bahraini ministers for finance, justice, health and telecommunications.
Bilateral agreements were signed for the avoidance of double taxation, fighting terrorism and organised crime, along with memorandum of understanding on air services, and a deal for cooperation on health.
Present at the talks were Kasoulides, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, the Cypriot ambassador to Bahrain Elpidoforos Economou and other officials. On the Bahraini side, present at the talks were Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa and the Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Christodoulides said Anastasiades’ visit was part of Cyprus’ policy to strengthen relations with the Gulf states.
Anastasiades has already paid official visits to Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and Oman is next on the list. The foreign minister of Kuwait is also due in Cyprus shortly, the spokesman said, where new agreements, including one on the energy sector would be signed.
“What was very important today was the decision by the King of Bahrain, following his meeting with the President of the Republic, to have his country accredit, for the first time, an ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus,” Christodoulides said.
Kuwait, Qatar and Oman already have diplomatic missions in Nicosia. The UAE has also taken the same decision and its new ambassador will be accredited this month.
“An important dimension that results from today’s meetings, and this is something that we have seen also with other Gulf countries, and more broadly of the region, is the important role they ascribe to the Republic of Cyprus as a member state of the EU, a country that knows the region and its particular characteristics, and they expect from us… to be the objective voice within the EU when issues that concern them are discussed,” the spokesman added.
Earlier on Monday at special ceremony, Anastasiades decorated the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa with the Grand Collar of the National Order of Makarios the Third, and the king in return decorated the president with The Order of Al Khalıfa.
Anastasiades was officially welcomed at the Palace where a military guard of honour was laid on.
Earlier he visited the Bahrain National Museum, and later on Monday was due to host a reception in honour of the Cypriot community in Bahrain followed by a dinner hosted in his honour by the Honorary Consul of Cyprus in Bahrain Stefanos Zachariades.
By Jean Christou