The Most Reverend Athanasios, Metropolitan of Limassol!
Mr. Mayor of Limassol!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Almost 300 years ago a foot of the eminent orthodox pilgrim Vasyl Barsky, who called himself “moscovite, citizen of Kyiv”, the first time stepped on Cyprus, which is often referred to as the island of saints.
Since the advent of Christianity the holly Cypriot land has attracted many locals and strangers to seek God’s grace.
Among them was Vasyl Barsky, who has taken a special place in the history of Cyprus, as well as in developing spiritual relations between such friendly countries as Cyprus, Ukraine and Russia.
Vasyl Barsky is a symbol of spiritual relations between our countries.
He was a monk-scholar and polyglot, who loved Cyprus, left to posterity a priceless heritage, in particular his unique manuscript on the history of Cyprus of the 18th century and drawings of holy monasteries of Cyprus.
I would like to emphasize that today we are opening the memorial plaque on the symbolic day – the 19th of September, which is the date of the first visit of Vasyl Barsky to Cyprus and Limassol in 1726.
During his four travelling to Cyprus he crossed through the entire island and managed to visit more than 50 monasteries from 60, which existed in Cyprus in those times. Together with a numerous number of Cypriot monks, his orthodox brothers, he had been praying a lot for the God’s blessing of this lovely land.
Thanks to drawings of Vasyl Barsky many of the mentioned monasteries, which were destroyed in the period of the Ottoman empire, have been restored.
In general, in the 18th century Vasyl Barsky from Kyiv spent twenty-four years in travels. It could very well be a world record in the time spent non-stop in travels.
Since those times the historical, spiritual and cultural closeness of our peoples has provided a solid ground for developing successful and friendly relations between Ukraine and Cyprus at the present time.
I am pleased to mention that bilateral cooperation between the two countries is developing on the basis of principles of mutual understanding and trust.
In the political field, this is reflected in the exchange of bilateral visits, as well as mutual support in the framework of international organizations. In particular, we are satisfied by the level of our cooperation in the light of Ukraine’s chairmanship in the OSCE in 2013.
In the sphere of Ukrainian foreign trade and investment Cyprus takes a very important role, despite the well-known banking crisis in the island and the world economic crisis.
Both countries have a huge potential to promote and further develop a mutually beneficial commercial relations.
Cyprus still is and will remain in the future as an attractive tourist centre for dozens of thousands of tourists annually from Ukraine.
We are also witnessing new dynamics for the religious tourism.
Last year visit of the President of Ukraine Mr. Viktor Yanukovych to Cyprus has opened a new phase of our bilateral relations.
Now we are looking forward to the official visit of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr.Nicos Anastasiades to Ukraine in the near future.
Thus we have a solid foundation, we have a good future.
At the present time Ukraine has succeeded to achieve significant results on the way of the independent development.
Our state undergoes complex transformation both in our domestic life and particularly in our relations with the foreign partners.
We have 21 priority directions for economic and social reforms that are underway or being launched.
Areas of focus include administrative, territorial-administrative, judicial, military, pension, education, financial, health care, the law enforcement system and other spheres.
Together they represent the most comprehensive reform agenda since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
We are proud that Ukraine has joined the international community as a social, democratic and respected country with consistent, understandable, strategically deliberated foreign policy.
Therefore, it is very important on this road to have true and reliable friends. And I am pleased to say that the Republic of Cyprus is such a trusted friend for Ukraine.
We are grateful to the people, the Government of Cyprus for their support of our European aspirations, in particular, on the issue of signature of Ukraine-EU Association Agreement at the Third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013.
From our Side, I would like to emphasise that Ukraine respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus and hopes for the soonest and just settlement of the Cyprus issue by political means in accordance with international law, key UN Security Council resolutions and EU principles.
The Republic of Cyprus can count on Ukraine’s support in this matter.
Concluding my speech, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Most Reverend Athanasios, Metropolitan of Limassol, for support of the initiative of the Embassy of Ukraine and the Russian Orthodox Educational Center, as well as blessing of this event to set up a memorial plaque in the honor of a Kievan monk Vasyl Barsky.
I am very pleased to express a special gratitude to Mr. Sergey Pugachev, Chairman of the Transbunker Group of companies, who has supported the above-mentioned initiative and, as the general sponsor, helped us to implement this cultural project and to turn it into life successfully.
I am grateful to Mr. Andreas Christou, Mayor of Limassol, for his support and participation in this historical event for our friendly peoples.
Special thanks to Mrs. Natalia Zykova, Director of the Russian Orthodox Educational Center, who initiated this cultural project, as well as to architecture Mr. Andreas Philokiprou, who made his important contribution with regard to logistical support of the project and the event.
Finally, I would like to express my confidence that opening of the memorial plaque in the honor of Vasyl Barsky is a very important cultural event in view of traditional friendly relations between Cyprus, Ukraine and Russia, as well as historical and spiritual closeness between our fraternal peoples.