Cyprus: Italian Foreign Minister meets with Anastasiades, Christodoulides, Spehar

Cyprus: Italian Foreign Minister meets with Anastasiades, Christodoulides, Spehar

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio visited Cyprus on Tuesday, where he met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and UNFICYP chief Elizabeth Spehar.

According to the announcement by the Italian Ministry, talks with the Cypriot President focused on the strengthening of bilateral cooperation and European issues.

Afterwards, Christodoulides and Di Maio had bilateral cooperation where they discussed the common approach to European issues, economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Italian Foreign Minister described bilateral relations as excellent, stressing they will continue to work to deepen their cooperation. During their talks, they reiterated their intention to further bolster economic cooperation and talks especially in strategic areas such as energy and infrastructure.

With regard to immigration, he said there must be a satisfactory compromise on the Immigration and Asylum Pact, underlining that Italy remains convinced that the right balance between responsibilities and solidarity must be found, alongside an effective mechanism to provide solutions and manage arrivals.

The Italian Minister reiterated his full solidarity with Cyprus, stressing that provocations and unilateral initiatives that harm the sovereign rights of Cyprus shall not be tolerated. “It is clear that Italy stands and will remain by Cyprus and Greece against any violation of their rights,” he noted.

The Italian Foreign Minister also stated that the proper exploitation of energy reserves must be a ground for cooperation. He said that Italy fully recognizes the conclusions of the December European Council adding that, as suggested by European Council President Michel, “we are ready to make our own contribution to a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.” Finally, he informed that they discussed the issue of Libya and the recent positive developments.

Nikos Christodoulides stated after the meeting that the presence of the Italian Foreign Minister at this time, but also the substantive consultations they had, prove the common will and desire to further strengthen the excellent relations between the two countries and the historical ties binding the peoples of Cyprus and Italy. He added that they exchanged views on practical ways to deepen cooperation in existing areas of action, as well as to expand it to new areas of cooperation.

Referring to the field of energy, Nikos Christodoulides stated that bilateral relations have been upgraded in recent years due to the energy cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus with the Italian company EMI, which operates within the Cypriot EEZ.

They also discussed regional developments in the wider southeastern Mediterranean, with particular emphasis on the countries’ cooperation in the formation of the Med 7, developments in Libya, and the migration issue.

As for the latter, the Cypriot Foreign Minister noted the positive approach to the text of the Pact on Immigration and Asylum, and the strong desire of Cyprus, as a front-line Member State under excessive pressure, to strengthen the principle of solidarity and the establishment of a binding mechanism for the redistribution of beneficiaries of international protection.

He also noted that they discussed developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the light of the Turkish delinquency and the relevant, joint EU decisions and conclusions, in view of the forthcoming European Council in March.

Nikos Christodoulides said that, in this context and based on the relevant EU Conclusions, Turkey is expected to exhibit a practical and sincere will to improve its relations with the EU and all independent Member States.

“Any decision to adopt a positive agenda in Euro-Turkish relations depends solely on Ankara which must, among other things, cease any illegal activities, both on land and at sea, but also to tangibly contribute towards the solution of a predominantly European problem such as the Cyprus issue, on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions and the EU principles and values,​” said Christodoulides.

“Cyprus is and will remain an EU Member State even after reunification, and given Turkey’s publicly stated desire to strengthen Euro-Turkish relations, the EU’s role in the negotiations is – perhaps more than ever – crucial and decisive,” the Cypriot Foreign Minister stressed in his concluding remarks.

During his meeting with Elizabeth Spehar, Di Maio reiterated the Italian support towards the UNFICYP mission on the island and the importance of a solution to the Cyprus issue, as well as stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Italian Minister met with four Carabinieri inspectors participating in the UNFICYP mission. /ibna