During an official visit to the Vatican on Monday, President Nicos Anastasiades extended an invitation to Cyprus to Pope Francis for 2020, which has been accepted by the pontiff.
Accompanied by his wife Andri, Anastasiades arrived at the Vatican on Monday morning together with Cypriot ambassador to the Holy See Giorgos Poullides, Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis and government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou.
Pope Francis welcomed the Cypriot delegation in a private meeting, where they exchanged gifts.
Anastasiades presented Pope Francis with a silver incense holder and a book entitled Multireligious Cyprus, while Pope Francis presented Anastasiades with a miniature bronze copy of St. Paul’s cathedral.
Later on, the president met with the prime minister of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and with the secretary of state, Archbishop Paul Richards Gallacher.
“The meeting with Pope Francis was a complete success,” said Anastasiades in a statement.
“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to speak to him about important topics such as climate change, the fight against slavery and the conflicts around the world, particularly the ones in the Middle East.”
Anastasiades also said Pope Francis “is very interested in the Cyprus problem and understands the difficulties caused by Turkey’s invasion and illegal occupation”.
“I had the opportunity to invite him to Cyprus,” he added, “which he was very pleased to accept.
“The Pope’s visit will take place next year and will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus.”
It will also mark ten years since Pope Benedict’s visit to Cyprus.
“We are extremely honoured that the Holy Father accepted our invitation. The presence of a leader such as the pope, a person of profound humanity and with modern vision of the world, is very important given the effort Cyprus is undertaking through interfaith dialogue to achieve global peace and stability,” the president said.
Anastasiades also discussed the Cyprus problem with Vatican prime minister and foreign minister, outlining the most recent efforts of the UN secretary-general and reaffirming Cyprus’ commitment to find a solution at the trilateral meeting on November 25 in Berlin.