Cyprus’ Government Spokesman on the UN Secretary General’s report, the Varna session and the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

Cyprus’ Government Spokesman on the UN Secretary General’s report, the Varna session and the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

The Cypriot government today welcomed the UN Secretary General’s report on UNFICYP through the Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou.

Speaking to reporters at the Presidential Palace, Prodromou said that “we welcome the UN Secretary-General’s report released to the UN General Assembly on UNFICYP”, adding that “the budget of the force for the second half of 2018 and for the first half of 2019 foresees a slight increase in expenditure”.

Prodromou then said that “given the rationalisation effort made in the framework of the UN for peacekeeping missions, we are satisfied with the assurance we have from the General Secretariat of the Organization that it will in no way affect its mission and effectiveness of the force in Cyprus”.

While he also noted that “the force will continue to focus, as stated in the report, on efforts that contribute to the achievement of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, which is our main objective, and the return to normal conditions in our country”.

Asked where Nicosia is focused in relation to the Varna Summit, and in a journalist’s observation that there is no veto right, the Spokesperson said that “it is not a matter of veto right. The meeting of Varna is a meeting between the EU and Turkey. It’s scheduled.

The President of the Republic had tabled the events and positions of the Republic of Cyprus at the Informal European Council held recently and, as a result, we had the unanimous position of the ’27’, as was publicised by the statement of President Tusk. The final decisions on the planned EU – Turkey meeting in Varna will be taken at the European Council on 22 March.

The Republic of Cyprus and our President are not trying to block Turkey-EU relations. That is not the goal, but to ensure that the EU’s conditions for ending aggressive behavior and challenges from Turkey are met and for the respect of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and the good neighborly relations”.

Asked if Nicosia’s position is to impose terms on Turkey from the EU’s for the Varna meeting to take place, the spokesman said that “the next regular European Council will discuss the issue, assess the situation and make decisions. The President of the Republic will be there, who together with our partners will collectively make decisions. There is no question of prejudging what the position of the Cypriot side will be. But  what is certain is that our aim, and our pursuit is to find ways – and we use all means and all the diplomatic channels, and more so our participation in the EU – in order to put an end to the provocations and the attempt to violate the sovereign rights of the Republic”.

Asked if the government believes it would be a success to issue a EU-flagrant statement or if something more tangible is expected, the spokesman said that “the aim is what the EU is expecting and asking from Turkey to yield results. By all means, we focus on this. There are various ways and means and the EU itself is concerned, as yesterday’s statements of the German Chancellor have shown”.

Invited to say if these modalities also concern EU’s financial assistance to Turkey for the immigration problem, the spokesman said that “what will be most effective will be seen in the discussions that will be held at the European Council. Turkey’s relations with the EU have many dimensions and the EU itself is seeking ways so that Turkey’s policies and behavior are such as to help improve relations between Europe and Turkey. Let’s not forget that the European Council’s agenda is not just the Cypriot issues, there are other very important issues that concern Turkey and which also concern our other partners”.

Invited to comment on the German Chancellor’s statements, the spokesman said that “Mrs Merkel’s statements set the framework for reflection and, of course, it is very important to note that yes, the Cyprus problem is a very important issue for which our partners as well are interested in its resolution. And Mrs Merkel’s special mention that Turkey has a central role to play, we think it sends the clear message”.

Asked whether there is something new about holding a dinner between President Anastasiades and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, the spokesman said “there is nothing newer. We expect and hope that there will be a response from the Turkish Cypriot leader for this preliminary meeting to take place. Whether it will be a dinner we will see. A face-to-face meeting needs to be done to clarify some things. And President Anastasiades, as is the institutional order of things and representing the Greek Cypriot side, is negotiating with Mr Akinci, who represents the Turkish Cypriot side”.

Asked whether the forthcoming visit by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs to Cyprus, in connection with the opening of ExxonMobil’s operations in the Cyprus EEZ, is a key factor in sending messages for the uninterrupted continuation of the Cyprus energy program, the spokesman said that “we consider Mr Mitchell’s visit to be important.

We note and understand that this visit – not only in Cyprus but also in other countries that fall within its competence within the US government – is yet another opportunity to discuss both bilateral issues that exist and in general, speaking of the USA, for the effort made by the President of the Republic to return to substantive negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem, provided of course that all these events that are do not have a positive effect are lifted. That is, the specific actions on the part of Turkey.

Mr Mitchell’s visit is understood to be related to the fact that he has just taken over this portfolio”.

He said that “the energy program of the Republic of Cyprus is continuing and will continue normally. The entrepreneur companies, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum, have planned their investigations, also have the power and contractual obligations to the Republic.

This program is being promoted normally, companies are making their own plans in concert with the Republic of Cyprus and taking into account the announcements it has made (ExxonMobil) we believe nothing further is needed. ExxonMobil’s designs are progressing normally”./IBNA