External Affairs

India Can Help in Cyprus Reunification, Says Cypriot President

The reunification talks have stumbled over the years due to the issue of territory and security.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. Credit: PTI

Nicosia: India can help Cyprus in its quest for reunification as it has close ties with Turkey, President Nicos Anastasiades has said ahead of his maiden visit to the country during which he will reaffirm the island nation’s close and time-tested ties with New Delhi.

“Those who are close to Turkey can be helpful,” he said when asked whether he would seek India’s help to reunify Cyprus, which has about about 37% of its area under Turkish occupation since 1974.

“Of course we shall ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi about any kind of possibility to intervene on the Cyprus question,” he said. Anastasiades will be on a state visit to India from April 25-29.

His remarks assume significance as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit India on April 30.

At the same time Anastasiades insisted that Cyprus won’t do things that may put friends at unease.

“If they are not able to intervene, we will not ask them. We are not going to ask something that may harm India’s interest,” he said.

As the talks between the two communities – Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – have restarted this month Anastasiades is hopeful of finding an early solution.

The reunification talks have stumbled over the years due to the issue of territory and security. The Turkish speaking community, which is in minority, wants a significant say in the decision making process and wants Turkish forces on the ground even after the reunification, which are the main sticking points in the talks.

Replying to a question on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Anastasiades said his country as a member of the 48-member bloc supports India’s bid.

He also reaffirmed Cyprus’s support for India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

“India is not a threat to any of its neighbours. It’s a stabilising factor,” he said.

The president said that Cyprus, which shares excellent ties with the countries of the EU and with neighbours like Greece, Egypt and Israel, can play a role in furthering India’s interests by speaking to its partners to give the most favourable treatment to India.

Cyprus also wants to help India to facilitate the free trade agreement with the EU.

Anastasiades will lead a 60-member strong delegation.

During his visit he will travel to Mumbai and Delhi. He will meet his counterpart President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

He will present a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi to his Indian counterpart. He will be accompanied by the ministers of finance, energy, transport and agriculture.

The main aim of the visit is to reaffirm Cyprus’s ties with India which has supported the country’s unification efforts.

During his visit, the delegation accompanying him will promote Cyprus as a gateway for Indian companies wanting to enter the European markets by setting their bases in the country.

With a double taxation avoidance treaty in place, authorities here feel that it would give level-playing field to all.

It also wants to cooperate with India in space sector as it feels that the clear skies of Cyprus can help Indian scientists to do a lot of research in space sector by establishing a centre.

Service sector is another area where Cyprus has a lot to offer to India. Cyprus is also looking to collaborate with India in the healthcare sector. Cyprus, which boasts of beaches, wines and natural beauty, also wants to promote itself as a tourist and marriage destination for Indians, arrival of whom remained less than 2,000 over the years.

The Cyprus government is also keen to woo Bollywood producers to shoot their movies in the country. Anastasiades is expected to be given a guided tour of Bollywood studios in Mumbai.

Indian high commissioner here Ravi Bangar feels that there is a lot of potential for the two nations to cooperate especially in health care and service sectors.

“Indian doctors can do very well here,” he said, adding that keeping in mind the common disease profile in the two nations there was a lot of scope for research collaboration.

Cyprus also wants India’s help in developing a Silicon Valley-style technological park.

“I am going to ask them (Indians) if there are people who can help us in know-how,” the President said.

Cyprus, which is Europe’s second largest shipping management centre, also seeks to cooperate with India in the sector.

India and Cyprus share historical ties. India has always supported Cyprus in its reunification efforts. In turn, Cyprus has always supported India in every international forum and on the Kashmir issue. Cyprus attaches a lot of significance to its ties with India, a fact highlighted by a bust of Gandhi outside the parliament of the country.

Nicosia also has roads named after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

Indians have contributed to the peacekeeping mission in the country. A road in Larnaca, where the country’s main international airport is located is named after Major General Kodandera Subbaya Thimayya who served as the commander of UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in 1965. India also supported Cyprus in its struggle for independence.

Almost all Cypriot presidents have come to India on state visits. In October 2009, the then President Pratibha Devisingh Patil paid a state visit to Cyprus.

Cyprus and India enjoy robust economic ties.

Cyprus is a major investor in India. With cumulative foreign direct investment of above USD 8.5 billion, Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India and has invested in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics.

(PTI)