The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, met today, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lefkosia, with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Federica Mogherini. Mrs Mogherini, who was accompanied by the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Mr Christos Stylianides, was also received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.
Minister Kasoulides and High Representative Mogherini presided over official talks of the delegations of Cyprus and the European Commission, followed by statements to the Press. Minister Kasoulides had the opportunity to brief in detail Mrs Mogherini on the negotiations process for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The two officials also exchanged views on the developments in the region, with special emphasis on Syria and Turkey, while they examined the relations of the EU with Russia and Egypt.
Speaking to the Press after the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, upon welcoming Mrs Mogherini and Mr Stylianides to Cyprus, said the meeting with the President of the Republic was very constructive, adding that the President briefed the High Representative on “where we are on the negotiations on the Cyprus problem and there was an exchange of views on how to better calibrate the role of the European Union on certain outstanding issues”.
Minister Kasoulides expressed his appreciation to Mrs Mogherini for her personal interest on the Cyprus problem and her commitment to support this process. “Your support to this process, as the President highlighted before, is indeed essential and needed”, he underlined.
Moreover, Mr Kasoulides and Mrs Mogherini discussed the developments in the region, including in Turkey and Syria. Of particular focus were also the relations of the European Union with Egypt. On Egypt, the discussion focused on how to enlarge the full potential of the relations between the European Union and the country; Minister Kasoulides, finally, highlighted that Cyprus “considers the strategic importance of the stability of our region and beyond is paramount, and for this we value very much the role of Egypt”.
On her part, the EU High Representative thanked Minister Kasoulides for the warm welcoming and the very constructive discussion they held during their meeting. “For me, it is not only a pleasure, but also a must, to be here in this moment that –we understand perfectly well- is a crucial moment for the negotiations. It is only natural for us, together with Christos, to be here, as the European Union and with our personal support for this important phase of the negotiations”, Mrs Mogherini noted.
High Representative Mogherini highlighted that a lot have changed since her last visit to Cyprus few months ago, commenting on the progress achieved in the last months in the negotiations for the Cyprus problem. “We are here not only to exchange information and be briefed, and we are thankful to Ioannis and the President for the insights in the negotiations and also to Espen Barth Eide, and the UN for their facilitating role”, she said, adding that today’s visit has been an occasion to discuss the EU support, and “our personal support, how the European Union can accompany to an even more effective way this process at this crucial phase. This is a process that is led with the strong ownership of courageous leaders, who are showing determination and vision and a lot of attention to the future of the people of Cyprus”.
“Our role as the EU is to accompany the leaders and their determination in a way that can be beneficial for all Cypriots to live in a united European Cyprus. So we discussed ways, in which the EU can better accompany these steps and personally, we (High Representative Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides) stand fully behind the efforts, the talks under the UN auspices and we share the leaders’ assessments that it will be feasible to overcome the remaining challenges that we know exist. We are very much encouraged by their determination to continue and intensify the talks in the beginning of November in Switzerland, overcome these challenges and reach an agreement on a comprehensive settlement even by the end of this year”, she stressed.
Mrs Mogherini expressed the EU and her personal support to this process “with all our determination and the tools and instruments the EU can put at the disposal of the Cypriots”.
Finally, she stressed once again that “this will be not only a turning point, a historic page for the island; this will be an extremely important step for the entire region. This is a particularly difficult region that needs help and trust in diplomacy and political solutions as no other region in the world needs. And this is a direct interest of all Europeans and all our friends the European region; that is a European region, being in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, that diplomacy and determination and investment in political solutions can lead to positive news for the people. This can be a game-changer not only for all Cypriots and the island, but also the EU, and obviously for the entire South-East Mediterranean and the entire Middle East. Somehow, it is a regional but even global responsibility to try and do this last mile in the most positive way”.
Then, invited to say the EU’s position as regards the issues of security and guarantees, the High Representative pointed out that it is still for the parties to discuss them. “It is extremely important that the negotiations see the leaders taking decisions and finding solutions that can benefit the entire island. Obviously, the best guarantee for security of any country in the world is a well-functioning state, and particularly for any member of the EU is being a member of the EU itself. As you understand well, we are entering the last crucial phase of the negotiations”, she stressed.
In a question on the efforts to counter-terrorism, and invited to say what tangible measures are being taken by the EU to prevent terrorism actions from happening, Mrs Mogherini said: “The liberation of areas both in Iraq and also in Syria that are seeing a strong Daesh presence only through the lens of the movement of terrorist fighters in some cases foreign terrorist fighters towards Europe. I do not think that a solution would be to keep them all where they are. Obviously, I believe that we all agree that the territories in Iraq and Syria need to be first and foremost liberated from the presence of Daesh. This is of security interest for the EU and its citizens.
There have been measures introduced to strengthen the control of the movement of people in our external borders, in particular in the control of identity and in general terms. In the last months we have increased the work we do on two issues that are fundamental: One is the issue of financing of Daesh and terrorist activities in general and the second one is the control of terrorist fighters not only on the way back to the EU, but also on the way to Syria and Iraq.
So this is a work that our colleagues are dealing with in internal security are intensifying a lot in the last few months. And this also concerns potential movements from that part of the region, as well as internal threats, because the most of the attacks the EU has experienced in the last year are actually coming within. So, the work is being intensified on all fronts. Make sure that people will return in their countries as soon as possible in the most secure way. This is itself part of the stabilization and the prevention of the spread of terrorism activities, investing in people’s lives and well-being”./IBNA