From the Turkish provocations to the Cypriot agenda
The President of the Republic Of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who made his first official visit to Cyprus after his election, underlined the very close relations between Cyprus and Greece and their strong support for meeting common challenges.
In his statements to the media, at the Presidential Palace, following the consultations of the two countries’ delegations, the President of the Republic said that “I would like to express once again the warm congratulations of both myself and the Cypriot people for your election as Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, while at the same time wishing every success in the admittedly difficult task you have undertaken. The fact that your first official overseas visit is taking place in Cyprus again demonstrates the long-standing strong ties between the two countries and confirms your personal will to continue our close cooperation, the full support and coordination of our actions. During the highly creative consultations that took place earlier, I informed my friend Prime Minister about the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and the efforts we are making to resume negotiations”, the Cypriot President said.
Through our common struggles, he added, we have demonstrated in practice, Cyprus and Greece, our commitment to a solution based on the principles and values of the European Union, the relevant United Nations Resolutions and the Security Council decisions, without the anachronistic system of guarantees and the presence of occupying troops. We seek to find a solution that will not create winners or losers, while at the same time ensuring the functionality, sustainability and durability of the new state of affairs, enshrining the human rights of all legitimate citizens with full respect for political equality, which will not create excessive privileges for the benefit of one over the other community.
“Based on the above principles, with decisiveness and positive political will, I will go to the meeting with Mr. Akinji, looking forward to working as a Cypriot to find a solution that will primarily serve the interests of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, a common position with the Prime Minister is that the resumption of talks also requires Turkey’s active contribution to the creation of an appropriate climate, ending the country’s unlawful actions within the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as any plans for the closure Famagusta area, which instead of building confidence, unfortunately, promote a sense of suspicion and mistrust over the real intentions of the other side.
As expected, we were given the opportunity with our friend Prime Minister and his distinguished associates to exchange views on these Turkish provocations and how to deal effectively with them through concrete actions at bilateral and multilateral level. In this context, I would like to express my warmest gratitude to the Prime Minister for the strong support of Greece in dealing with the illegal activities of Turkey”.
With regard to the geopolitical scene of the region, there was mention by President Anastasiades to what the EU decided for Turkey, saying he welcomes the defense of the international legitimacy and sovereign rights of a Member State of the European Union on the basis of the European acquis and international law, and is particularly pleased to welcome the EU’s decisions.
“During our consultations, we reaffirmed the shared concerns about the major challenges we are facing at European level, including the refugee and immigration crisis, climate change, Britain’s exit from the EU, but also the need for a Union that meets the expectations of European citizens. At the same time, we reaffirmed our will for joint actions in the Eastern Mediterranean by strengthening the initiatives we jointly developed with Greece through the tripartite partnerships we have established with Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Our aim is to upgrade regional cooperation, dialogue, peaceful and creative coexistence, aiming at making full use of the prospects that are presented, especially in the energy sector.
I wish to reiterate for the first time that the network of partnerships we have developed does not turn against anyone and does not exclude any of our neighboring countries. On the contrary, it institutionalizes cooperation and strengthens the common pursuit of peace, security and stability in the particularly vulnerable region of the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Prime Minister, we also emphasized the particular importance we attach to further deepening cooperation between the seven countries of the European South in order to tackle common challenges more effectively.
Dear Prime Minister, Dear Kyriacos, I have no doubt that your current visit will be decisive in setting up further targeted actions between Cyprus and Greece, both bilaterally and multilaterally, as well as within the European Union”.
Mitsotakis: The support of Greece is a given
For his part, the Prime Minister of Greece said that “I feel a great thrill on my first visit as a new Prime Minister of Greece to be in Cyprus, continuing a long tradition that the first official trip of a Greek Prime Minister will always be to the Great Island. This visit takes place at a particularly charged, particularly important juncture, and it is therefore inevitable that our debates are not symbolic or formal but deeply substantive, and I would like to thank you for the detailed briefing Mr President. On the matter of the Cyprus issue, I reiterated that the end of the Turkish occupation remains firmly our top concern and the absolute firm strategic pursuit of Greece’s foreign policy.
In this spirit, I expressed my satisfaction with the upcoming meeting of Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akkinji and my restrained optimism that a new framework of understanding will be able to emerge that will allow us to make some progress on the crucial, major national issue. We are once again clear that Greece does not see a solution to the Cyprus problem without the complete abolition of the anachronistic guarantees without the withdrawal of the occupying troops from the island. It is a totally anachronistic system that can not continue to apply in particular to EU Member States and I look forward to the President’s briefing on the outcome of the 9 August talks.
We also talked about the increasing Turkish provocations that violates the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, but also about the ways in which an organized response is not a reaction that is obviously limited to the excellent cooperation between Greece and Cyprus, is a reaction that also concerns the EU itself, as this issue does not only concern the sovereign rights of one of its Member States but also the EU’s own energy policy as to the need to diversify the sources of energy in the eastern Mediterranean basin. In the context of the European institutions, Cyprus should take the support of Greece as granted, so that any escalating Turkish provocation will be met with analogous responses, always at European level.
I reiterated the importance I attach to all tripartite cooperation schemes in the Eastern Mediterranean. These cooperation schemes were first launched by New Democracy governments, continued by the previous Greek Government, and we wish to build on this positive precedent which created a framework of effective cooperation at tripartite level between important, almost all countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and of course the participation in these discussion of other important, strategic players with a strong interest in the Eastern Mediterranean is also a development which is extremely welcome.
We also discussed other bilateral issues concerning outstanding issues related to education, issues that I believe can be easily resolved bilaterally between the Ministries of Education and the great abeyance – for which I would like to thank the whole Cypriot people again for of President Anastasiades – for the significant donation that the Republic of Cyprus has announced after the catastrophic fire in Mati, in support of the care structures in eastern Attica and I promise that this money will be put in good use fast and in the best possible way, as will the resources of all the private donations that have been made to heal the wounds of a great disaster whose memory will always accompany us.
Finally, I had the opportunity to inform the President of the important economic policy priorities of the new government. On July 7, Greece turned its page and New Democracy received a strong mandate to quickly move forward with a fast-paced reform grid that will focus primarily on strong growth, job creation, tax cuts and middle-class support. Already, the new Greek government is ready to table for vote and we hope that the first three bills on state organization, the reduction in real estate tax for 120 installments and an inter-ministerial bill on local government, will pass before 8 August, but it will also move on to the extremely symbolic move to finally eliminate the university asylum which, unfortunately, asylum-seekers have turned into asylum that protects lawlessness and delinquency within the universities.
In this overall effort to convince everyone that Greece deserves the confidence of our creditors, we want Cyprus to be a solid helper and I am sure that we can count on the support of the Republic of Cyprus in the effort we will make to earn credibility in Europe so that we can stand alone and set our own economic policy.
Greece and Cyprus have been traumatized by a profound economic crisis, but they have different characteristics, but I want to publicly acknowledge in my first visit as Prime Minister the leadership of President Anastasiades, who dared to propose bold reforms to the House that improved the competitiveness of the Cypriot economy and have led to rapid growth rates, and despite the problems that are always there – no economy can solve and face all the problems at the same time – surely Cyprus manages to grow and with growth rates much higher than the average EU rate.
And for us, this example of how fast bold reforms can lead to rapid growth is a point of reference for what we want to do in Greece too, giving the blueprint of economic positions very quickly.
My friend Nikos, I want to thank you again for the warm reception and your kind words, and I believe that in this timeless chapter of the Hellenism, Cypriot and Hellenic Hellenism, I believe that a new, more optimistic day is dawning”./ibna