ATHENS -- Kick-starting tourism, the Cyprus issue and bilateral relations in the post-Brexit era were discussed during a meeting held in Athens on Tuesday between Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Wendy Morton, the UK Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for European Neighbourhood and the Americas.
"We look forward to receiving British citizens for their holiday and hope this can be implemented from mid-May," Varvitsiotis said in statements after the meeting
Morton said that more than 3.5 million Britons visit Greece every year and confirmed that many were impatient to enjoy their holidays on Greek islands.
Varvitsiotis also referred to the Parthenon sculptures and their "return home" by the British Museum: "An issue I raised, as I consider I must always do, is that of reintegrating the Parthenon Marbles, which must finally return to the unique World Heritage monument, the Parthenon."
Regarding the Cyprus issue, he pointed out Britain's role as one of the guarantor powers and that it was important to exchange ideas ahead of the informal 5+1 meeting on Cyprus taking place on April 27 in Geneva.
Varvitsiotis also reported an exchange of ideas on how to create a strategic partnership and agreement between the two countries "that will accompany us in the future", with emphasis on the many thousands of Greeks in the UK and thousands of Britons living in Greece.
"We will do our best to ensure that even after Brexit their life will not become harder," he added.
Morton, who had accompanied Prince Charles during his visit to Greece for its bicentennial anniversary, said that Britain "was proud that it played an important role at the side of the Greeks for their independence and the establishment of the modern [Greek] state." Greece and Britain have been friends and allies throughout these 200 years, she added, and her hope was for an even closer relationship to be built going forward.
She said they had discussed ways to deepen bilateral relations and cooperation, including in the management of the pandemic, protection from terrorism and organised crime, trade, investments, education, migration and defence, as well as climate change.