Cypriot Community Welcomes Cyprus’s New Ambassador, Mr. Chakalli

The Cyprus Federation of America and PSEKA held a welcome reception for Cyprus’s new  Ambassasdor to Washington, Mr. George Chakalli on Thursday June 20, 2013 at Kopiaste Restaurant .   Mr. Philip Christopher, Pseka President and Costas Tsentas, CFA president welcomed Ambassador Chacalli and promised to work very closely with the Cyprus Embassy.   Ambassador Chacalli, in turn, vowed to work diligently for our beloved Cyprus and thanked everyone for attending.

Ambassador Chacalli’s Remarks during the Presentation of His Credentials to President Obama on July 24, 2013

I have the distinct honor to present to You the Letter of Credence appointing me as Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States of America, as well as the Letter of Recall of my predecessor.

On this occasion, allow me, Mr. President, to extend to You, to Your Family and, through You, to the People of this great Nation, the greetings and heartfelt best wishes of President Anastasiades, of the Government and of the People of the Republic of Cyprus, for peace, prosperity and happiness.

Mr. President,

The Republic of Cyprus and the United States are closely bound together by age-old ties of friendship, which are solidly embedded in commonly held principles, values and ideals. Our two countries have a long tradition of working together in promoting shared goals and mutually beneficial objectives based on precisely these ideals. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus remains fully committed to further strengthening these bonds of friendship and cooperation in future.

In this regard, our two countries have already been working closely together in promoting and safeguarding world peace, stability, the rule of law and democracy. In an effort to further accommodate these goals, Cyprus announced its intention and cautiously yet firmly proceeds towards the accession to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program, as the new Government is determined to reorient the country’s foreign policy and increase its contribution to the European Security and Defense Policy, as well as to the Transatlantic Partnership, and become a useful bridge towards the sensitive and volatile area of the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, as a serious and reliable international partner, through its membership in the PfP, Cyprus hopes to actively contribute in the common efforts to enhance international stability and build strong security relationships, which are so vital in upholding international order.

The cooperation between our two countries also extends beyond global security issues, to include important fields such as commerce and trade, where Cyprus and the United States enjoy a close trading and business relationship, with continuously expanding business flows. There are numerous agreements between Cypriot and U.S. service providers, including in real estate, accounting, finance and insurance, management consultancy and technology/IT consultancy, while several very important U.S. firms conduct their international business for the region using Cyprus as a base.

More recently, potential offshore energy reserves have made Cyprus a progressively more interesting destination for U.S. investment in the field of offshore energy exploration and infrastructure. A review of the current Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation between our two countries would prove beneficial in the promotion of these commercial exchanges and would encourage further growth and development of these vital areas of business activity.

Furthermore, in the field of culture, a recently expanded and renewed “Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the United States of America concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials”, serves as an important and invaluable deterrent against the continuing attempts to illegally import into the United States, Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage, which is constantly being looted as a result of Turkey’s on-going occupation of the northern part of the island since 1974.

In addition to the multitude of bilateral agreements existing between our two countries, Cyprus’ accession to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) would offer yet another helpful platform from which to further bolster our relations. Cyprus is eligible for participation in the Program, as it meets both the refusal rate and the overstay and abuse of visas criterion. The Cyprus Government stands ready to take any additional measures that may be required to facilitate its accession to the VWP.

Mr. President,

On the domestic front, our country is facing both political and economic challenges.

On the political front, the occupation of 37% of Cypriot territory, following Turkey’s military invasion in 1974, and the subsequent violation of the fundamental human rights of the Cypriot people, still continue.

President Anastasiades remains fully committed to bringing a fresh approach and a new impetus to the efforts for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, aiming to end the illegal occupation of our country which is dividing the People of Cyprus and restore peace and security, not only for the benefit of our country and People, but also in the interest of wider regional stability in general.

The basis for this solution continues to rest with the U.N. Security Council Resolutions calling for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, a single international personality, a single citizenship and with political equality as described therein.

Undoubtedly, however, as the occupying power, Turkey itself holds the key to any mutually acceptable solution, since this cannot be achieved without Turkey’s own sincere good will and constructive active involvement in the peace-making process, while fully respecting International Law and the European Aquis Communautaire.

The second challenge relates to the economic and financial hardships that have severely affected our country during the past few months and which have necessitated the personal commitment and attention of President Anastasiades since the first day of his assuming office.

As Cyprus faces the most serious economic crisis in its modern history since the 1974 Turkish invasion, the Cyprus Government remains firmly committed to undertaking, in consultations with our international partners in the IMF and the European Union, a series of innovative measures and brave new steps to restructure and reinvigorate the island’s economy.

The prospect of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, offers not only new hopes in our efforts to regenerate our country’s economy but also new avenues for cooperation with our international trading partners, including, in particular, the United States. American energy companies have already been involved in this new project and we look forward to expanding such joint ventures in future.

Mr. President,

Being fully aware of the enormous responsibilities ahead of me and of the trust placed in me by President Anastasiades, I look forward to working actively with the U.S. Administration in exploring new ways to deepen and widen even further the excellent relations and close cooperation between our two countries and to working to the best of my abilities to enhance these ties even further, while, at the same time, attempting to expand and strengthen this cooperation in other global and regional matters of common interest.

Thank you Mr. President.