President Nicos Anastasiades met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, telling reporters afterwards that it was a very fruitful meeting.

The president detailed that he is thankful for the Vatican’s decision to open an embassy in Cyprus and for the support extended both in terms of the migration issues and the Cyprus problem.

Anastasiades was also awarded the Order of Pope Pius IX, which he described as a personal honour and an honour for Cyprus.

Elsewhere, the president met with other top officials such as the Vatican’s prime minister and foreign minister – where, again, they discussed the Cyprus problem, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and closer cooperation between Cyprus and the Vatican, among other topics.

Asked whether he bid Pope Francis goodbye since his administration is coming to an end, he replied that with the Pope he has established a particularly friendly relationship. “Therefore, I bid him goodbye as a president not as a friend.”

“During the cordial discussions, which took place, appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the intention to develop further collaboration in sectors of mutual interest, including the reception of refugees,” a Vatican press release said.

“In addition, mention was made of the process of reunification of the island and the situation in the western Mediterranean and the entire region, in the hope that ongoing problems may be addressed through dialogue.”

The president’s three-day visit began on Sunday.