President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for projects to be built in Mati, near Athens, where severe and repeated wildfires in 2018 left hundreds of people homeless.
The Cyprus government donated a total of €10 million. On top of that, individual donations collected in Cyprus over the past years, which amounted to €1 million, were also donated to the Greek government during the visit.
Part of the funds donated by Cyprus will be used to build a total of ten residential buildings housing 14 apartments each.
Moreover, of the €10 million, around €2.5 million will also be donated to the Greek air force, as Anastasiades’ visit coincides with the anniversary of the death of two Greek jet pilots, who lost their lives while on duty on a Nato exercise in the Spanish town of Albacete in 2015.
Anastasiades, who arrived in Athens on Tuesday evening, held a meeting with the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos mansion and with the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the presidential office.
It is Anastasiades’ last visit to Greece as president of Cyprus, and Mitsotakis thanked him “for ten years of sincere friendship”.
“Today is a very touching moment for me and for my country, as I welcome you for the last time in your capacity as president of Cyprus,” Mitsotakis said.
“Your appointment came in the midst of a great economic crisis. We are well aware of this.
“However, you have managed not only to restore Cyprus’ economy but also to take your country forward on many different levels, and I think you have every reason to be proud of this,” the Greek prime minister said in his speech.
He also expressed sadness that the Cyprus problem could not be solved during Anastasiades’ tenure, but reaffirmed Greece’s will to find a viable solution to the impasse.
“I want you to know that you will always be welcome in my office, not anymore as the president of Cyprus, but as a personal close friend,” Mitsotakis concluded.
Anastasiades conveyed his gratitude for Greece’s constant support to his government.
“We have been called upon to face several threats from Turkey and, thanks to our diplomacy and good neighbourliness, we have shielded Cyprus and elevated it to a position of strength, one that is in line with European values,” Anastasiades said.
He than referred to the shared values of Hellenism between the two countries, adding that Cyprus’ contribution to the rebuilding of Mati is “a clear indication of a long-standing and solid friendship”.
“I will continue to be a Greek Cypriot who is anxious for both the fate of our Cyprus and our Greece.”
Following the meeting with Mitsotakis, Anastasiades met Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who also praised him for his “tenacity and diplomatic skills”.
“Thanks to the excellent and close diplomatic efforts made by both countries, we have strengthened UN resolutions that are shielding Cyprus from several dangers,” she said.
Sakellaropoulou added that Cypriot Hellenism survived over the years also thanks to the support of Greece, “which stood by the people of Cyprus in critical times, stemming from the Turkish invasion in 1974 to our days”.
“Turkey’s intransigence and provocations will not discourage us from firmly supporting the UN secretary-general’s efforts to find common ground in order to resume negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem,” the Greek president concluded.
Anastasiades was accompanied by Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos and the ambassador to Athens Kyriakos Kenevezos.
During the visit, Prodromou and his Greek counterpart Niki Kerameos signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting and facilitating the cooperation between the two countries on education, in particular the mutual recognition of academic degrees awarded by higher education institutions in Cyprus and Greece.