The inaugural ceremony of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union took place tonight, July 5, at the Curium Amphitheatre, featuring speeches from distinguished guests, followed by a rich cultural programme.
In a beautiful setting, with the ancient amphitheatre overlooking the sea, notable European dignitaries wished Cyprus a successful Presidency of the Council of the European Union. They also voiced their certainty that Cyprus is capable of having a successful Presidency, whilst expressing their admiration for the historic setting of Curium.
On handing the baton of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU to Cyprus, the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, highlighted the fact that when the European Union opened its doors to Cyprus in 2002, Denmark was also presiding the Council.
“I find it symbolic – almost meant to be – that a Danish Prime Minister now stands here handing over the Presidency of the Council to Cyprus”, said Mrs. Thorning-Schmidt.
A place of 'filoxenia'
The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Demetris Christofias, welcomed the guests to the island of Cyprus known for its “filoxenia”, hospitality, and thanked the Danish Prime Minister for skillfully guiding the Council during the previous difficult six months. President Christofias vowed that the Cyprus Presidency will strive for a Europe of solidarity, social cohesion, prosperity, security and growth.
Thereafter, President Christofias briefly referred to the priorities of the Cyprus Presidency, placing special emphasis on the Multiannual Financial Framework. “The multiannual budget of the EU has to prove a real tool, at our disposal, to regenerate growth and jobs”, the President of the Republic stressed.
In turn, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said that the choice of the venue showed that Cyprus has always belonged to the European family. “I am heartened when I see that the priorities of the Cypriot Presidency fully concentrate on what Europe needs today: more Europe, a stronger Europe, and a Europe that fosters sustainable growth, solidarity and social inclusion”, President Barroso noted.
The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, pointed out in his speech that Cyprus is taking over the rotating Presidency in a very crucial moment for the EU. “Our continent is facing huge socio-economic challenges. To overcome them, we have to make important choices, some of which will bring unprecedented changes to the way we work as a Union”, highlighted President Van Rompuy.
Finally, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Anni Podimata, read a greeting on behalf of its President, Martin Schulz. In his greeting, President Schulz emphasised the need for the EU to take decisive steps towards achieving growth while pointing out that “the fight against youth unemployment and the creation of jobs are among the most pressing issues today”.
Rich cultural programme
Led by Alkis Baltas, the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra provided the music between each speech. Following the speeches, an artistic performance directed by Angelos Angeli, with music by Michalis Christodoulides and choreography by Chloe Melidou, offered the guests the opportunity to marvel at Curium's acoustic perfection. The performance was narrated by George Corraface.
The final part of the evening included songs on renaissance poetry performed in Cypriot dialect by Doros Demosthenous and Pavlina Konstantonopoulou, with music by Michalis Christodoulides.