President Nikos Christodoulides addressed students at Jagiellonian University in Krakow on Friday in what is the second day of his official visit to Poland, the first for a Cypriot president.

His speech highlighted a shared vision for the future of the European Union, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Cyprus and Poland joining the bloc. Christodoulides stressed the EU’s achievements and the need to protect and strengthen its values continuously.

His visit to the university included meetings with the rector and a tour of the university museum. The Cypriot delegation also visited the historic centre of Krakow and Wawel Castle, followed by a working lunch with the governor of Lesser Poland, a province of southern Poland.

“The European Union stood as our promised lighthouse, our guiding light but also our port. It symbolised our Ithaca, a beacon of hope. Our future,” Christodoulides told students.

“When Cyprus and Poland joined the EU, they were in effect returning to their rightful place, a place of common values and economic and political security.”

Christodoulides also underlined the role of young Europeans in shaping the future of the EU.

Many of you were not even born yet, and I am certain you simply cannot imagine now a Poland outside of the European Union. In the same way, my daughters and the younger generation cannot imagine not being part of our great European family.

“We need to listen and enable our youth a lot more than we do. Cyprus and Poland may be distant geographically, but they share so many commonalities, in their identities and trajectories.

We have both endured threats, occupation. We struggled for our independence. And our countries have also rich cultural heritages that is an essential part of the European culture,” Christodoulides said.

The President began his two-day official visit to Poland on Thursday. Accompanied by his wife Philippa Karsera, he was received at an official welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Warsaw.

He then held a private meeting with Polish president Andrzej Duda, followed by extended talks between the delegations of the two countries. The discussions focused on bilateral relations, tourism, investment, the Cyprus problem, EU issues, regional relations, and the Amalthea corridor.

A memorandum of understanding in the field of sports was signed between Cyprus and Poland, followed by statements to the media. Christodoulides expressed the aim to strengthen cooperation on tourism, trade, and investment. He also conveyed condolences for the recent death of Polish NGO worker Damien Sobol in Gaza, underscoring Cyprus’s solidarity with Poland.

President Duda welcomed Christodoulides and briefed him on the situation regarding Ukrainian refugees. He thanked Cyprus for its support in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and reaffirmed Poland’s support for resolving the Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions. The leaders also discussed issues on the European agenda, including the upcoming EU elections.

Later, Christodoulides attended a working lunch with Polish prime minister Donald Tusk and had a meeting with parliament speaker Szymon Hołownia. In the evening, he and his wife attended an official dinner hosted by Duda.

The Cypriot delegation, including the Deputy Minister for European Affairs Marilena Raouna and deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou, will return to Cyprus on Friday evening.