India and Cyprus bilateral ties date back to more than half a century, when India, under the leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, supported Archbishop Makarios against the bane of British colonialism. On 10 February 1962, two years after Cyprus became independent, diplomatic ties were established between the two nations. Since then, both the nations have supported each other in their bid to realize the dreams and aspirations of their people for nationhood and self-determination.
At the international arena, Cyprus has supported India’s candidature as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Within the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Cyprus has also extended support to the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, thereby benefiting India in its quest for expanding its energy requirements and propelling its economic growth initiatives. In the EU also, Cyprus supports India by further strengthening the India-EU relationship under the foundation of their strategic partnership. Since its inception, three Indian Generals served as the Commanders of the UN forces in Cyprus, leading it to recognize the prominent and stabilizing role India played in contributing to the global affairs, particularly for its participation in UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world, and ensuring peace and security in South Asia.
A number of diplomatic measures and visits have taken place between the two nations during the years. For example, the decision to constitute a high-level ministerial dialogue was taken during the visit of former President Papadopoulos to India in April 2006. To solidify and strengthen the relationship, then Minister of External Affairs of India, P. Mukherjee, visited Cyprus in May 2007. Another mechanism for addressing regular exchanges was established under the Protocol of Political Consultations signed in Nicosia, in March 2001. More recently, in February 2021, External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar had a virtual meeting with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, RoC, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, under which both sides appreciated the upward trajectory witnessed in the bilateral ties and resolved to further expand people to people ties, economic cooperation and continue with the high level exchanges.
Similarly, External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar had a bilateral meeting with the present Minister of Foreign Affairs, RoC, Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides at the sidelines of CHOGM 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda on 23 June 2022 and at the sidelines of 77th UNGA in New York on 24 September 2022. During the same year, in his visit to Cyprus, Dr S Jaishankar signed an agreement on Defense and military cooperation, another Letter of Intent on immigration and mobility, as well as the agreement on Cyprus joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA). During 18-19 November 2022, Mr. Nicos Nouris, Interior Minister of RoC visited India to attend the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Counter Terrorism, “No Money for Terror ”, during which he had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Nitya Nand Rai, Minister of State for Home Affairs of India while discussing the migration issue.
As far as economic arena is concerned, the Cyprus-India Joint Committee on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Industrial Cooperation, established within the framework of the Indo-Cyprus Agreement for Economic, Scientific, Technical and Industrial Cooperation (signed on 13 April 1989 and modified on 6 October 2006) governs the bilateral economic exchanges. According to the Ministry of Indian Foreign Affairs, the economic and commercial relations can be further bolstered in that Cyprus is a major business destination which can provide highly developed infrastructure, favorable FDI and taxation regimes combined with a communication and investment framework that holds one of the world’s most efficient legal, financial and insurance services to Indian businesses in fields such as information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. In most sectors of the Cyprus economy, there are no limitations as to the overseas participation percentage and the minimum level of investment, making it ideal for establishing Indian businesses as there are simplified administrative procedures and virtually no bureaucratic intervention.
On May 1 2008, the agreement on Abolition of Visa Requirement for Holders of Diplomatic, Official or Service Passport came into effect, making it easy for the two nations to encourage people-to-people contacts and business as well as cultural and tourism development. In 1990, the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation was signed between the two nations to strengthen the educational, scientific and cultural cooperation between the two nations. For example, Cyprus has been able to showcase its cultural heritage in India through the showcasing of various cultural events such as the European Cultural Weeks in India, European Film Festivals in India and Europe Day celebrations, along with separate film festivals, photographic exhibitions etc. On the Centenary Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi was installed in the garden of the Parliament of RoC in July 1972 and the avenue in front of the bust was named as “Jawaharlal Nehru Avenue” in 1983. In light of the political and economic developments that have taken place between the two nations over the years, there is much to be celebrated about; in the common historical and democratic values we share and the opportunities that both the nations can provide in strengthening each other’s economic and political growth and development.