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German president’s ‘historic’ visit draws to a close

Υπουργός Εσωτερικών – Πρόεδρος Γε
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Kofinou migrant centre

Substantial suggestions had been made on German help towards restarting talks on the Cyprus issue, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Tuesday.

The president was speaking on the final day of his counterpart, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s visit to the island.

The two presidents in the morning participated jointly at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the closure of the British concentration camp for Jews in Cyprus.

During the course of his visit, Steinmeier also attended a German language course being piloted this year at the Archbishop Makarios III gymnasium in Aglandjia, with the aim to expand it to other schools.

He was greeted at the school by education department director Marina Hasapi standing in for Education Minister Athena Michaelidou who is currently abroad.

Christodoulides, noting the importance of the German president’s “historic visit” at the former event, said discussions between the two heads of state, as well as their delegations, had been “excellent” and would continue.

“We exchanged some views which you understand cannot be made public [and] of course we are interested far more in outcomes,” he said.

Developments in the region, humanitarian aid in Gaza and the EU and Germany’s response were also on the agenda, as was the future of the EU in light of upcoming elections as well as imminent elections in the USA, the president said.

Speaking about the meeting on Monday between Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Christodoulides said Greece not only supports efforts to restart talks but takes a leading role which is positively received by Cyprus with “absolute coordination between Athens and Nicosia”.

The president also said he hoped for positive results from the next visit of the personal envoy of the UNSG to Cyprus, expected to take place in the second half of March.

Steinmeier later visited the Kofinou migrant reception camp where he was briefed by the interior minister. The German president also spoke with residents, employees, NGO staff and volunteers.

About 400 people, families, as well as single men and women, currently live in the centre, of which about 80 are children, enrolled in public school.

Ioannou informed the German president of the planned expansions underway at the centre, as well as at Pournara and the ‘pre-departure’ centre at Limnes.

The minister thanked the German president for his support for the European migrant relocation mechanism, noting that a total of 1,804 immigrants have been transferred from Cyprus to other member states, of which 1,029 to Germany.

Before leaving the island early in the afternoon, Steinmeier will visit the village of Lefkara on a guided tour, followed by a lunch with Christodoulides in Kato Drys.

 

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