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Kasoulides sworn in as foreign minister, Christodoulides bids farewell (Update 3)

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Kasoulides sworn in as foreign minister, Christodoulides bids farewell (Update 3)

the handover ceremony between Ioannis Kasoulides (left) and Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday

Ioannis Kasoulides was sworn in as foreign minister on Tuesday, returning to active service nearly four years after deciding to leave public office.

He takes over from Nikos Christodoulides who resigned on Friday amid a row with Disy over candidacies for the 2023 presidential elections.

The swearing in ceremony was held at the presidential palace where President Nicos Anastasiades praised Kasoulides’ track record in the same post during Anastasiades’ first term between 2013 and 2018. Kasoulides also served as foreign minister under Glafcos Clerides from 1997 to 2003.

The president said Kasoulides had served with success and professionalism in the best interests of the country, with well-considered and targeted decisions at critical times for Cyprus.

He particularly cited Kasoulides’ huge contribution to Cyprus’ EU accession course, his contribution to Cyprus’ tripartite cooperation agreements with countries of the region and his decision to formulate the first national security strategy, among other.

“That is why I wish to warmly thank Mr Kasoulides because, despite his decision to abstain from state positions, accepted in view of the difficult conditions our country is experiencing to take the helm again at the foreign ministry,” Anastasiades said.

At the same time, he expressed regret that he was losing the services of one of his closest associates, as he thanked Christodoulides for his close cooperation, dedication and effectiveness from positions entrusted to him either as director of the president’s diplomatic office, or as government spokesman and as foreign minister.

Replying, Kasoulides said he felt he was being called in from the reserves to active duty. “I warmly thank you because I too understand the significance of the difficult moments so that there can be continuity,” he said.

Foreign policy does not change, as substantial decisions under the constitution are decided by the president.

“As I have said, there will be no change in our foreign policy, but we could give more importance to some fronts,” he said, citing as one example focusing more on accredited diplomats in Cyprus.

More importance will also be given within the EU for solidarity, from the EU to Cyprus and vice versa.

“I will try to do this, considering that we are not a single-issue country,” he said, as he congratulated and thanked his predecessor.

At the official transfer at the foreign ministry which followed, Christodoulides spoke of a difficult day after 23 years of daily involvement with the ministry.

“This is not an easy day for me at all,” he said, noting that he had served as a diplomat for 19 years and minister for four.

There had not been enough time to complete his work and bid farewell to his associates, but he stressed that he was proud of the foreign ministry and its people.

He did not discuss the reasons for his resignation saying he had elaborated on them on Sunday but noted that the conditions of his departure meant that he did not have the opportunity to take stock of what had been achieved.

Nor did he indicate what lay ahead, saying only that a circle of 23 years was closing today and a new one opening, expressing the hope that it will be better and more hopeful.

Christodoulides looked back briefly at some of milestones, including the establishment of the secretariat for the trilateral conferences, the operation of a secretariat for European issues, the expansion of regional cooperation, the operation of the first diplomatic academy, the launching of units for economic diplomacy and gender equality, the opening of the embassy in Tokyo and the reopening of the embassy in Damascus and the coordination of the repatriation of 20,000 Cypriots stranded abroad at the start of the pandemic.

There was praise from Kasoulides who said Christodoulides, who had succeeded him in the post in 2018, had forged a successful road.  He joked about ‘entering and exiting’ the ministry as this was his third stint.

Christodoulides had ratcheted up many achievements. “He will make his choices and just like his course was always successful, I wish him that they are now too.”

Bidding farewell on behalf of the personnel, permanent secretary Cornelios Corneliou paid tribute to Christodoulides’ many efforts which had enhanced Cyprus’ role in the region, deepened bilateral ties and entrenched a multi-dimensional foreign policy.

 

 

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