By the Ambassador of Cyprus, Dr Kyriacos Kouros.
First contact between the Cypriots and the Dutch took place in the late 16th century. It had to do mainly with isolated visits of pilgrims en route to the near-by Holy Lands.
The oldest Dutch text available so far is by a student of ecclesiastical law at the Utrecht University named Iohann van Kootwyck who set foot on Cyprus in 1598 – 1599 on his way to and from Jerusalem and made extensive references to his impressions and observations in the island.
The contemporary state of affairs
Cypriote-Dutch relations have nothing worthwhile to display until 1960 when the Republic of Cyprus was established and the two states started building ties. When Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and the EUROZONE in 2008, mutual goals and common aspirations took the relationship on the next level.
The Cypriot-Dutch bilateral track remains quite active. Only this year so far, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem under his capacity as EUROZONE President paid separate visits to Cyprus. Cypriote visitors to the Netherlands included Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis who came to talk about prospects in the domain of energy, following the discovery of significant amounts of natural gas off-shore the island; and the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Alexandros Zenon, also paid a working visit. More ministerial visits are on the making.
Apart from the Embassy of Cyprus in The Hague, we also operate an office for the promotion of Cypriote tourism in Amsterdam. Cyprus is a fascinating destination for those who like spending quality time under the sun in marvelous beaches, swimming in crystal clear seas, enjoying Mediterranean cuisine and night life, appreciating environmental friendly holidays, and exploring a family-oriented destination with thousands of years of civilization attractions including stone age settlements, Greco-Roman sites, Byzantine and Muslim places of worship, medieval castles, and all this located in an area the size of one fourth of the Netherlands!
A ship registry office is also operates in Rotterdam since maritime affairs are contributing substantially to our economy. Our Registry ranks tenth among international fleets and third within the EU!
The political situation in Cyprus
To those of us who follow developments in international affairs, the prevailing situation in Cyprus is an anomaly in contemporary Europe. This is an EU member-state a large part of which is under a 40-year occupation by a foreign army of an EU membership candidate! A no man’s land between the cease-fire lines patrolled by UN peace keeping force UNFICYP also provides for a mistaken impression of a “border”! The Netherlands was one of the countries which contributed a contingent and since their first arrival in 1998 more than 900 Dutch had served in UNFICYP.
In February 2014 a fresh round of fully-fledged negotiations for a viable Cyprus settlement has been launched. This is the sixth such attempt under the UN Secretary General’s good services. We hope it will be the last attempt for the benefit of all concerned stakeholders on a local, regional and international level.
The important of the natural gas findings
Cyprus can play a significant role in the energy security of the EU and our Eastern Mediterranean region’s stability due to the natural gas reserves discovered off shore of Cyprus. However, there is an urgent need to adopt a common EU policy, with a view to secure energy security in the wider region, that will not only be positive for EU but for the Middle East as well.
If you wish to learn more about Cyprus in general, we suggest the following website: http://www.aboutcyprus.org.cy/. If you want to travel to Cyprus for holidays, we suggest you seek advice from the website www.visitcyprus.com/ but be very careful if you seek advice from other websites due to the prevailing situation in Cyprus