Cyprus and Iraq have pledged to enhance their commercial ties during what has been described as a “historic visit” by Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, who met with President Nikos Christodoulides on Monday.
At a joint press conference, Rashid characterised the visit as marking a new chapter in the relations between the two nations, emphasizing its symbolic and substantive significance.
The Iraqi president highlighted the shared culture and common interests between Iraq and Cyprus, noting that discussions between the delegations would cover various aspects, including bilateral relations, the economy, investments, security, and anti-terrorism efforts.
Rashid expressed his country’s strong desire to expand relations with Cyprus, aiming to increase Iraq’s presence in both public and private Cypriot enterprises.
“There are huge potentials and investment opportunities in Iraq and there is the will of the government to ensure further horizontal cooperation with various friendly countries,” he said.
In his response, Christodoulides echoed the sentiment, describing the visit as historic and expressing hope for the signing of an agreement to avoid double taxation early next year.
Such an agreement, he explained, would boost economic and investment relations between the two countries.
“We also agreed that there is common ground to promote cooperation in matters of education, but also culture and the protection of our cultural heritage, such as the repatriation of stolen cultural treasures,” said President Christodoulides.
Both leaders acknowledged the impact of climate change on their respective countries and expressed readiness to collaborate on bilateral and regional initiatives.
Addressing the situation in Gaza, the two leaders conveyed their devastation over the loss of innocent lives and expressed concerns about the escalation of tension with potential regional consequences.
Christodoulides underscored the shared commitment of Cyprus and Iraq to international law, respect for the territorial integrity, unity, and sovereignty of states.
He also briefed his Iraqi counterpart on the Cyprus problem, expressing gratitude for Iraq’s principled stance on the issue within the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation.
“As an EU member state, Cyprus supports strengthening the bloc’s relations with Iraq,” noted Christodoulides.
President Rashid later visited the University of Cyprus where he extended an invitation to a university delegation to visit Iraq, which the Rector, Tasos Christofides, accepted.
Rashid noted that exchanges of academics by the two countries can contribute to build cooperation. He underlined the importance of the tasks of academics and universities, especially in dealing with global challenges, such as the rapidly increasing population and climate challenge.
He suggested that the University of Cyprus and universities in Iraq should proceed with student exchanges in all fields and noted that Iraqi universities excel in medical studies, as well as in engineering, law, languages and cultural studies.