President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr President! Dear colleagues!
Allow me to greet you once again.
I would like to congratulate you once again on receiving the award 'For Strengthening the Unity of Orthodox Peoples'.
I would like to point out the traditionally close relations between Russia and the Republic of Cyprus. I think that we must go about about revitalizing the work of the Intergovernmental Commission and I draw attention to the fact that after Cyprus acceded to the European Union we were able to quickly reach an agreement on simplifying the visa regime. This applies to a limited number of Russian citizens who hold diplomatic and service passports and to certain other categories. I think that we must continue consultations and talks based on the arrangements we have already reached in order to extend the visa-free regime to others as well. I am convinced the this is in the Cypriot party's interests, and in particular I am referring to Russian tourists to Cyprus.
Of course, exchanging opinions on the Cyprus settlement will prove very useful. Within organizations created by the UN, Russia has actively taken part in looking for solutions that are acceptable to all and intends to continue doing so in the future.
Tassos Papadopulos: Mr President, I am very grateful to you for your congratulations on the occasion of my award. I accept this award on behalf of Cypriot Hellenism and its efforts towards reaching mutual understanding and cooperation with the peoples of the region and, first of all, with Orthodox peoples. We accepted this award understanding that it is the initiative of an outstanding religious figure, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and knowing Russian leadership pays close attention to supporting and developing ties with the Church as well as supporting the churches.
The visa problems do not stem from a willingness to accept or refuse the Russian Government, visa restrictions have been introduced according to the requirements of the European Union. This was also a negative turn of events for us, since before that Russia and Cyprus had no visa regime, and Russians were then made to feel that certain restrictions had been introduced into our relations.
I would like to express my satisfaction concerning the fact that two intergovernmental agreements between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cyprus came into effect. The first provides that holders of service or diplomatic passports can travel with out visas and the second that citizens of our countries can travel under concessionary terms. We are making all necessary efforts to simplify and facilitate the visa regime, in particular the Cypriot party practically never refuses to grant a visa—only in one percent of the cases. The best visa Russians can have to Cyprus is the open hearts of the Cypriots.