NICOSIA, March 2 (Rahnuma): Cyprus President Nicos Anasasiades has flown to London for a three-day “guest of government” visit to the UK, it was announced on Saturday.
The visit, from March 3 to 6, will be the first ever in the 59 years of statehood of Cyprus after its independence from British colonial rule.
The British High Commission in Cyprus explained that the main difference of a ‘guest of government’ visit from a state visit is that during a state visit Anastasiades would stay at Buckingham Palace – which he is not going to do.
“We are delighted to welcome President Anastasiades to London as a guest of the UK government from March 3 to 6 – the highest level visit ever by a Cypriot President to the UK,” said the British High Commission in a statement.
It added that the invitation to Anastasiades has been extended as he has not been in the UK for some time, and the British government believes relations between the two countries have never been better.
Britain has retained two areas in Cyprus, constituting 3 percent of its territory, which are used as Sovereign Bases, while tens of thousands of Britons have set up their residence in Cyprus.
An estimated 300,000 Cypriots of first, second and third generation are living in Britain, which is the main source of tourism for Cyprus. An estimated 40,000 Cypriots have studied in British universities.
Though the presence of the bases on Cypriot soil is at times a vexing factor, Cyprus and Britain work very closely together and have extensive commercial and economic relations.
“This visit reflects the importance the UK attaches to our bilateral relationship, and our confidence that those relations will continue to develop and expand in the future, particularly in areas such as education and defence and security,” the High Commission noted.
Anastasiades will have audiences with the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of Cambridge, during a “Celebrating for Cyprus” event at the Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
The event will be hosted by the Prince of Wales, who has an interest in Cyprus. It will focus on the Cyprus diaspora to British society and Cypriot cultural heritage and will be addressed by Anastasiades.
On the political side, Anastasiades will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss issues of mutual interest including Brexit, the Cyprus issue, expanding bilateral links in education and defence and security, and the Commonwealth.