Leaders of Cyprus and Malta pledged on Monday in Nicosia to further strengthen the relations between the two tiny Mediterranean island states which share historical and economic similarities .
Both countries won independence from British colonial rule in the 1960s and joined the European Union in 2004. Now the pair are in busy preparation for the entry into the euro zone on Jan. 1, 2008.
Visiting Maltese President Edward Fenech-Adami and his Cypriot counterpart Tassos Papadopoulos expressed their satisfaction with the "excellent bilateral relations" during their talks, the semi- official Cyprus News Agency reported.
The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues including the Cyprus problem and EU regulations regarding Cyprus, the European Constitutional Treaty, the initiative of Malta for a European-Arab Forum, ways to promote candidacies of Malta and Cyprus in international fora, as well as energy and immigration issues.
Fenech-Adami told reporters after the talks that Malta favors Turkey's accession to the European Union, provided that Ankara fulfills all commitments towards the EU, including the ones regarding the Republic of Cyprus.
Papadopoulos said that there is still great room for the two countries to increase commercial and financial cooperation and urged Cypriot businessmen to "see the benefit of having joint ventures and expanded economic commercial and trade relations with Malta."
At a following Cypriot-Maltese business seminar, Maltese president encouraged entrepreneurs from both countries to embark on new business ventures and make use of the comparative advantages their two countries have to offer.
Latest statistics show the number of Maltese visited Cyprus has increased by 29.2 percent in 2006, while the number of Cypriots visited Malta has increased by 65.5 percent in 2006.
By joining the euro zone, Cyprus and Malta officials hope to boost tourism and foreign investments in their countries. For example, Cyprus Tourism Organization is weighing the possibility of a Cyprus-Malta-combined package for Chinese tourists.
The Maltese president arrived in Cyprus late Sunday. He will wrap up his three-day official on Tuesday.