Cyprus is “the strongest supporter of Serbia’s European path”, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.

Christodoulides is in Serbia on a two-day visit and made the remarks following a meeting with the Balkan country’s President Aleksandar Vucic.

He added that he feels “at home” in Serbia, “because, and I am sure that I am also expressing the feelings of the Cypriot people, feel that Serbia and its people are very close to us, historically, politically, cultural, and on a human level.”

“Today, I feel that I am among friends, and I am sure [Vucic] feels the same way,” he added.

Speaking regarding his meeting with Vucic, he said “we specifically discussed how we can further deepen our bilateral relations, which have developed in recent years in almost all areas.”

He added that “there are always prospects for further development. I want to refer specifically to the matter of defence, where we had several discussions. These discussions will continue tomorrow regarding trade and tourism.”

Additionally, he said Serbia’s “economic development has been strengthened to a significant extent” under Vucic and added that Cyprus is “ready to host more Serbian tourists”.

He also spoke on the issue of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, and said “I expressed our support for the efforts of the Serbian government. Cyprus’ position is stable and cannot be changed in respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia.”

Moving onto the matter of Serbia’s European Union candidacy, he said “we believe the country has taken the most important steps, especially recently, both in terms of reforms as well as progress in many other areas, and this should be recognised by the EU.”

“Cyprus was, is, and will continue to be one of the most ardent supporters of Serbia’s European integration,” he added, also inviting Vucic to visit Cyprus.

Vucic said Cyprus “is a sincere friend of our country, just as we are a sincere friend of the Cypriot people and of Cyprus.”

“President Christodoulides is a great friend of Serbia and we are happy and grateful that he came to our country. He should feel at home in Serbia, just as we feel when we are in Cyprus,” he added.

He said, “today we have confirmed that we want to further intensify relations between our countries. I have expressed my gratitude to Cyprus and to President Christodoulides because of the support they provide us with regard to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia.”

To this end, he added that Serbia “abides by international law and supports United Nations resolutions on the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, both on land and at sea. Our country’s policy is not going to change.”

He also thanked Christodoulides for “the continuous and very important support that his country provides to Serbia’s European prospects.”

“Cyprus is one of the countries which very strongly supports our country’s European integration and cooperates with us in all sectors.”

Speaking on the subject of tourism, he said “we will try to increase the number of visits by Serbian citizens to Cyprus and Cypriots to Serbia and to increase the level of services and trade between our countries.”

“I would also like to encourage investors from Cyprus, who have so far invested in both the food an agricultural industries,” he added.

He also said he considers the cooperation between Cyprus and Serbia on the issue of defence “very important”, saying “for many years we have had very close cooperation in the field of military industry, and I believe we can strengthen this cooperation.”

Drawing his speech to a conclusion, he said “the Cypriots are more than our friends, they are our brothers. We love that country, we love those people, and I know very well how much the Cypriots also love Serbia and our people.”

He thanked Christodoulides for the help Cyprus provides to Serbia “everywhere, in Brussels, and in bilateral relations”.

He also said Christodoulides and other Cypriot ministers should “visit Serbia more often”, saying his country “has a lot to learn” from Christodoulides’ government and describing it as “the only window we have to Europe”.