On Tuesday, December 12, 2023, a high-profile delegation from Iraq, led by the President of the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif Rashid, visited The Cyprus Institute’s premises in Athalassa, Nicosia. The visit took place within the context of an official visit of the President of Iraq to Cyprus. This marked the first ever official visit of an Iraqi President to Cyprus, and laid the foundations for a new era of bilateral relations between the two countries.
In his welcome address, Prof. Stavros Malas expressed solidarity with the resilient people of Iraq as they navigate socio-economic and political challenges. He highlighted The Cyprus Institute’s commitment to fostering international cooperation and supporting initiatives that promote Iraq’s well-being and development. Prof. Malas emphasized the power of unity, dialogue, and collaboration to address challenges and pave the way for a brighter future.
Prof. Malas further announced The Cyprus Institute’s intention to establish a scholarship program, specifically designed for Iraqi students to attend postgraduate programs at The Cyprus Institute. The program aims to provide opportunities for Iraqi students to pursue quality education and research in Europe, enhancing human capital development in Iraq and the broader Middle East region. The scholarship program includes five (5) full tuition scholarships for Ph.D. programs in Computational Sciences, Energy, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences, and Science and Technology in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. Additionally, five (5) 50% tuition fee scholarships will be offered for Master’s programs in Simulation and Data Science, Environmental Sciences, and Digital Cultural Heritage. The program is expected to commence starting in the academic year 2024-2025.
The President of Iraq, H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, expressed his gratitude to The Cyprus Institute for granting scholarships, stating that Iraq, after a long period of wars with neighbouring countries and internal conflicts, has realized that confrontations not only do not contribute to the well-being of its citizens, but have also hindered the progress of science and society. However, the advancement of science, beyond progress, requires alliances to address significant challenges such as climate change, calling on the countries of the Persian Gulf to unite in a joint effort to mitigate its impact, noted the Iraqi President.
Iraq is particularly sensitive to issues related to water resource management and agriculture and in its national statement at this year’s COP28 summit in Dubai (November 30 - December 12, 2023), the Iraqi President pledged to accelerate efforts in completing national plans for climate change adaptation and mitigation, urging Gulf States, including Iran, to form a regional group to enhance negotiating power in climate change discussions.
On that note, the critical role of The Cyprus Institute as a regional hub of science and innovation to address climate challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region was also underlined during COP28 Summit in Dubai. CyI’s strong commitment in facilitating regional cooperation on climate science to inform collective regional climate action is fully aligned with the announcement of next steps for the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative (EMME-CCI), by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Christodoulides during his delivery of Cyprus’ National Statement (Brief Intervention) at the COP28 Summit. The EMME-CCI was initiated by Cyprus in 2019 and coordination of its scientific component and interim Secretariat have been assigned to, and led by, CyI.
Present at the meeting on behalf of CyI were CyI President, Prof. Stavros Malas, Institute Professor, President Emeritus and CEO of The Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF), Prof. Costas N. Papanicolas, CyI Vice-President of Operations, Dr Michalis Yiangou, CyI Asst. Vice President of Policy and Internal Communications, Mrs. Eleni Sophocleous, STARC Director, Prof. Michel Menu, and CyI Director of Research and Technical Support, Dr Vassilis Tsakalos.
The Iraqi delegation included the Chief to the Presidency's Advisors and Experts Committee, Mr. Ali Yousif Abdulnabi, Parliament Member P.M. Ms. Hayfaa Hussein Hatem, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Mohammed Hussein M A, Ambassador Non-Resident of the Republic of Iraq to the Republic of Cyprus and the Hellenic Republic H.E. Mr. Mouayed Saleh, Director-General of the Presidency's Legal Department Mr. Salah Lazem Shamkhi, H.E.'s Secretary Mr. Saad Nawkhas Almas, and Deputy Director-General, Presidency's Media Department Mr. Abdulameer Hammood Qasim.
The meeting was also attended by the Ambassador of Cyprus to Iraq, Mr. Michalis Ioannou, and the Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Mrs. Koula Sophianou.