The Cyprus problem, migration, climate change, Lebanon and the Ukraine war were discussed during a meeting on Monday between President Nicos Anastasiades and Pope Francis at the Vatican.
President Anastasiades said he was honoured to meet Pope Francis and Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
“During the meeting, we discussed the excellent relations we maintain,” he said.
He thanked the Pope for his decision to establish a Vatican Embassy in Cyprus and a Vicarage of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
“I expressed the deep appreciation of the Cyprus people, for the Holy See’s support based on principles both as regards the solution of the Cyprus problem but the great interest his Holiness demonstrates in matters to do with migration,” President Anastasiades noted.
“I thanked him because he was the first action to receive migrants who are in Cyprus.”
“We certainly discussed the Cyprus problem and the conditions which are constantly deteriorating due to Turkey’s actions.
“We discussed the missing persons issue, a sensitive humanitarian matter which is of particular interest to the Pope, climate change and in particular Lebanon, a region which is of specific interest for the Papal Church, but we did not forget to refer to the hardships the people of Ukraine are subjected to.”
Anastasiades revealed the Pope would award him the Order of Pius the IX due to his “creative efforts to improve the relations between the two countries,” an order awarded, as the Pope told the President, in “exceptional cases”.
“This is an honour for me but also our Cyprus.”
He met Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for relations with states and international organisations, with whom he discussed the same matters in depth.
Anastasiades briefed Vatican officials on the government’s decision to grant state-owned land rented long-term to the Vatican to construct an embassy.
“I bid him goodbye (the Pope) as a President but not as a friend.”
A Vatican press release said, “during the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the intention to develop further collaboration in sectors of mutual interest, including the reception of refugees.”