Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos and his Filipino counterpart Enrique Manalo, on Friday reaffirmed their commitment to international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) following their official meeting in Nicosia on Friday.

The visit marked the first time a Filipino foreign minister set foot in Cyprus, stressing the deepening diplomatic relations between the two nations as they approach the milestone of 45 years of formal diplomatic ties.

The discussions between Kombos and Manalo covered a broad spectrum of topics, most importantly mutual interests and cooperation opportunities across various sectors. At the forefront were maritime affairs, given the shared reliance on UNCLOS principles and the importance of freedom of navigation in global waters.

Both ministers acknowledged the substantial contributions of Filipino seafarers to the Cypriot shipping industry.

“Our country’s collaboration underlines the practical aspects of our bilateral relations, where economic activities intersect with strategic maritime policies,” Kombos said.

“Cyprus and the Philippines share values of democracy, respect for the rule of law, and freedom of navigation, which underpin our robust diplomatic ties.”

Kombos was echoed by Manalo, who said “the deep-rooted maritime ties and shared commitment to UNCLOS principles provide a solid foundation for our bilateral cooperation.”

Beyond maritime issues, the agenda encompassed cooperation in trade, investments, culture, and education. The ministers revealed that they explored avenues to enhance economic ties, stressing the potential for growth in bilateral trade volumes and investment flows between Cyprus and the Philippines.

Regional and international affairs also featured prominently in Kombos’ and Manalo’s talks, as they exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine, emphasising the importance of stability and conflict resolution in these regions.

They also discussed the ongoing dialogue between the EU and the Philippines regarding free trade agreements, aiming to strengthen economic cooperation and market access.

In the context of their discussions, Kombos further highlighted Cyprus’ role as a neutral party in international conflicts, reaffirming the country’s commitment to humanitarian aid and its support for diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the United Nations.

Manalo also put special emphasis on “the significant presence of Filipino nationals in Cyprus, not only in the maritime sector but also in other fields contributing to the local economy and cultural diversity.”

He expressed appreciation for Cyprus’ hospitality towards the Filipino community and highlighted the potential for further cultural exchanges and educational partnerships.

Looking forward, both ministers expressed optimism about the future of Cyprus-Philippines relations, as they agreed on the importance of continuing dialogue and collaboration to address global challenges and seize opportunities for mutual benefit.

Later on Friday, Manalo met with House President Annita Demetriou, with the pair discussing relations between Cyprus and the Philippines, and their common will to further strengthen operations between the two countries.

They also noted the “special connection” between Cyprus and the Philippines which has been forged by Cyprus’ large Filipino community.

Demetriou also thanked Manalo for the Philippines’ “principled stance” on the Cyprus problem, and informed him of Cyprus’ efforts to solve it.

In response, Manalo highlighted his country’s “firm adherence to international law as the only possible way to achieve peace and protect smaller states against powerful neighbours.”

He added that he found a “convergence” between the two countries’ outlooks.