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30-11-2023 07:38

Address by the President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, at the AmCHAM CYPRUS Thanksgiving Gala Dinner, yesterday

A good evening to all. It is a true pleasure to join you for the Thanksgiving Gala Dinner organised by the American Chamber of Cyprus (AmCHAM).

Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated as an opportunity to express gratitude for the blessings and good fortune in one's life. Ιt is a time for reflection on all that we should cherish in our lives, thereby fostering a sense of appreciation and mindfulness. Beyond the meaning that this holiday has at an individual and community level, Thanksgiving also serves as a symbol of unity, shared values and cooperation between nations.

In this regard, it provides us with an ideal opportunity to reflect on the bond between Cyprus and the United States.  

Over the last years, we have witnessed the relationship between Cyprus and the United States flourish in remarkable ways, in an array of important areas, including in security, energy, defense as well as in areas such as education. I have said it before and I will repeat it tonight - our bilateral relations are at a historic high.

The relationship between Cyprus and the United States is a strategic one, and I am humbly proud that during my time as Foreign Minister we signed the Statement of Intent which has been a basis of our cooperation for our work in maritime security, counter terrorism, and non-combatant evacuation, and which we look forward to broadening. It has never been more pertinent to say that Cyprus is a stable, reliable, trustworthy and predictable partner of the United States, in a complex, often unpredictable region.

The achievements in our relations have not happened in a vacuum. They stem from a conscious foreign policy choice and from the tangible commitment of both Governments. I am excited about the incredible prospects in our cooperation. Our aim is to also enhance economic cooperation, bilateral trade and investment, as well as people-to-people contacts. And we are lucky that we have Ambassador Fisher in Cyprus who shares this enthusiasm and is working tirelessly on growing further our bilateral relations.

Business relations play a key and paramount role in solidifying the political ties between our nations. As we navigate the complex terrain of global challenges, the collaboration between Cyprus and the United States and businesses becomes increasingly crucial. It is through shared economic interests and mutual investments that we build a foundation for enduring cooperation and growth. Towards this end, we strive to maintain sustainable and competitive economic conditions.

The Cypriot economy has demonstrated flexibility and resilience in the face of disruptions and serious challenging external conditions. We are recording a 2.2% economic growth in the third quarter, well above the EU average. According to the European Commission Autumn Forecast, Cyprus is projected to be among the top five eurozone countries in terms of GDP growth in the 2023-2025 period.

The good performance of our economy and its prospects is also evident by the recent upgrade and the reinstatement of the credit profile of our country by Moody’s after 12 years.

Notwithstanding the good performance of the economy, navigating the complex landscape of today’s world requires strategic orientation, robust public finances and smart policy decisions.

Our actions are guided by the Vision 2035 strategy paving the way for a new growth model based on tangible medium and long-term objectives.

At the same time, we aim to enhance the attractiveness of Cyprus as an investment destination and to create a conducive business environment that promotes transparency and efficiency. In this regard, we are diligently working towards the implementation and gradual revamping of the existing Strategy for Attracting Investment and Talent, launched by the previous government in 2022.

This brings me to another crucial matter, the reputation of Cyprus with respect to money laundering and sanctions. I would like to reiterate in the strongest terms that for this Government the strengthening of the legislative and enforcement framework is a matter of utmost priority.

The political commitment to demonstrate zero tolerance for practices that expose Cyprus internationally is real, it is tangible and it is unequivocal. We are working tirelessly in promoting actions to restore the reputation of Cyprus as a credible business and financial centre, including the Council of Ministers’ decision of June, consisting of a comprehensive package of measures towards this end. As part of my resolute intention to address decisively the reputation of Cyprus with respect to money laundering is the team of experts who will come from abroad, from the United States –and I am glad that the government of the United States immediately responded positively to my request–, in the coming days to aid the work we do in this regard.

In this framework, we work in close cooperation with the United States on matters of Anti-Money Laundering (AML), the implementation of sanctions and fighting corruption. We consider the United States as a close partner on these matters, through which we can draw expertise and to coordinate to ensure the maximum effectiveness of our actions. The excellent cooperation with the United States on these matters was demonstrated in the manner in which the two Governments worked together on the most recent sanctions package announced by the United States.

Beyond the substance of the matter at hand, the Government aims to take specific actions to effectively communicate, both the progress Cyprus has made in recent years in combating money laundering from illegal activities and to highlight the competitive advantages of the country through a comprehensive "branding" campaign.

As we diligently strive to foster a stable and thriving economy, we are concurrently undertaking initiatives to strengthen and expand our economic relations with the United States.

More specifically, we have set an Integrated Action Plan on Economic Diplomacy in place, under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States Embassy in Nicosia, which is being implemented.

One of its flagship actions is the accession of Cyprus to the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme which we believe will unlock untapped potential. The removal of visa requirements will facilitate efficient cross-border business activities, fostering trade relations, investment opportunities, and collaboration between Cypriot and American enterprises. The enhanced ease of travel for business purposes can catalyse economic growth, creating a more conducive environment for entrepreneurial endeavors and contributing to the mutual prosperity of both countries.  Similarly, the streamlining of the entry process will benefit citizens in general, fostering increased tourism, cultural exchange, and family reunification, thereby strengthening people-to-people ties between Cyprus and the United States.

Recognising the aforementioned benefits, since last April, I have appointed the Deputy Minister to the President, Mrs Irene Piki, to be the Focal Point for this endeavor, and a specific Work Plan is being implemented. I am optimistic that we will have a successful outcome soon, in 2024.

Amidst these positive developments, we are witnessing a steadily increasing flow of US investments into Cyprus. This is a clear indication of the confidence that American businesses have in the economic potential of Cyprus.

We are committed to building on this momentum and further increasing US investments in our country. Simultaneously, we remain dedicated to supporting and facilitating the operations of US businesses that already operate in Cyprus, creating a conducive environment for growth and success.

In these endeavours, AmCham stands as a solid partner and has been instrumental in fostering collaboration between our business communities. I would like to express my deep appreciation of your commitment to promoting bilateral trade – and investment is commendable –, and we look forward to further strengthening our partnership in the pursuit of shared goals.

In conclusion, during this Thanksgiving, let us celebrate the prosperous friendship between Cyprus and the United States and express gratitude for the shared values and aspirations that bind our nations together. May we continue to demonstrate goodwill and foster collaboration between Cyprus and the United States enriching the lives of our citizens and contributing to a better world.