Nicosia, September 12, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni stressed here today that a Cyprus solution should not include foreign single interventions and that within the framework of the solution “it is needed to overcome the situation that is now considered necessary to have the guarantees”.
He also expressed the belief that Turkey will play a constructive role on the solution and stated that during his visit in Turkey in a few weeks he will “try to give the Italian contribution to this diplomatic effort to finally find a solution to this problem”.
At the same time Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides underlined that if the two sides involved in the Cyprus peace talks manage to agree on the issue of guarantees as well as the issue of territory, which, as he noted, has not been discussed yet, then “why not” to reach a solution by the end of 2016. “We shall have to wait for the next months to see how it progresses” he added.
The Foreign Ministers of Cyprus Ioannis Kasoulides and Italy held today in Nicosia official talks in the framework of Gentiloni`s official visit to Cyprus. Earlier today Gentiloni was received by the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades.
The latest developments in the Cyprus problem, bilateral relations, energy issues, EU-Turkey ties, migration and terrorism, as well as the situation following the referendum in the United Kingdom for the exit of the country from the EU, were, inter alia discussed, with the two Ministers welcoming the ceasefire agreement on Syria reached between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov and stressing the need for the implementation of the agreement.
Speaking to the press, the Cypriot FM welcomed Minister Gentiloni to Cyprus and expressed the sympathy and condolences of the Cyprus Government and people for the devastating earthquake that hit central Italy last August. He thanked his counterpart for Italy’s assistance during the fire in Troodos Mountain this summer.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, Minister Gentiloni had the opportunity to be updated by the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the recent developments in the ongoing negotiations.
Also, the two Ministers discussed the relations of Cyprus and Italy and “agreed that, although they are at an exemplary level, we will work together to keep them in that level and perhaps further advance them”.
Moreover, Ministers Kasoulides and Gentiloni examined energy developments in the neighbourhood.
“I conveyed to my colleague our belief that with the presence of the Italian companies ENI and EDISSON in the Eastern Mediterranean, Italy could play an important role in the energy developments in our region and contribute to the policy of cooperation and synergies pursued by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus” Kasoulides highlighted.
Referring to Brexit, views were exchanged about the series of profound changes that will bring with it, both for the UK and for the EU. “Cyprus believes that London should be afforded time to determine how it envisages its future relationship with the EU, but the sooner this is determined the better for all of us as the uncertainty is not without consequences for the United Kingdom and the EU member states” the Cypriot FM stressed.
On Turkey-EU relations, Cyprus` Foreign Minister reiterated Nicosia’s position that it is up to Turkey to react positively, in order to allow tangible progress on its accession process and more precisely on the negotiating chapters. He added that “Turkey’s EU accession process is a significant tool for keeping Turkey closer to EU democratic standards through the implementation of relevant reforms. Nonetheless, conditionality must remain a basic principle”.
On migration, the two Ministers agreed that, in order to effectively address the challenge of high migratory pressures, the EU needs to demonstrate solidarity. “We all need to take up our responsibilities in helping front line member states, now Italy and Greece, which should not be left alone in facing the consequences of the mass influx of refugees”, Kasoulides said.
“We also shared our concerns regarding terrorism, and we agreed that we need to step up efforts to address this global challenge, but also address its root causes. No country is immune to this threat; we must act together, as EU and as international community, to fight this scourge” he added.
According to Kasoulides they also had the opportunity to exchange views on the situation in the Middle East, with special emphasis on Libya and Syria. “On Syria, we welcome the decision by John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov and we hope that this is a great opportunity for a ceasefire in Syria for the sake of the people that is suffering and the sake of the countries in the neighbourhood, which receive many refugees from Syria and, in the end, for the sake of peace and stability in our region that will also facilitate to terminate Daesh and other terrorist organizations that are operating there” he noted.
On his part, Italian Foreign Minister thanked Minister Kasoulides for the hospitality and the constructive meeting.
He noted that he had the opportunity to be briefed on the progress achieved in the ongoing negotiation process for the solution of the Cyprus problem. “We are aware that substantial progress has been achieved so far, but it is always the last period of this and other complicated issues are not the simpler one. We are supporting the commitment of the President of the Government to reach an agreement”, he stressed.
He expressed the conviction that a peaceful agreement in Cyprus will be in this very moment an extraordinary good message for Europe for economical reasons, because, as he explained, many issues are at stake.
“First of all, extraordinary potentials in energy are there and could be even stronger after an agreement on Cyprus. Second, I believe it would be a good political message for Europe. Europe needs at this moment good messages, good steps, especially in a country, like Cyprus, that can be an example of co-existence of different communities and religious within Europe, giving a good example to all Europe” he noted, and underlined that he is confident that Turkey will play a constructive role on the solution and that during his visit in Turkey in a few weeks he will “try to give the Italian contribution to this diplomatic effort to finally find a solution to this problem, appreciating President Anastasiades’ commitment to this effort”.
On bilateral relations, Minister Gentiloni expressed satisfaction with their excellent level and noted the potential of further cooperation in other fields, such as in energy. “Energy and especially natural gas can be a driver for also regional cooperation in Easter Mediterranean”, he pointed out.
As regards the issue of migration, the Italian Minister stressed that all the countries of the EU should share equally the burden of the refugees influx.
Finally, he welcomed the agreement reached in Geneva on Syria. “We all know and could do a long list of difficulties facing this agreement and of risks. But the fact is that agreement was reach and the ceasefire could take place in a few hours. And if this is the case, the ceasefire could open the way to political process in a positive direction. But first of all we need to cease the hostilities in Syria”, he said.
Asked if Italy’s support for a Cyprus solution without guarantors, as defined in the Athens Declaration, will be converted into some kind of action having in mind that he will visit Turkey very soon, Paolo Gentiloni stressed that “we have to find a solution that first of all should be a Cyprus-owned solution; not a solution coming from outside, but a solution coming from an agreement among Cyprus’ communities”.
“This is the first point if we want a solution with practical success. Within the framework of the solution –obviously is not our job to define several aspects of the solution-, it is needed to overcome the situation that is now considered necessary to have the guarantees. We need an international solution, shared by Cyprus’ communities, without foreign single interventions. This is one of the most delegate aspects of the negotiation. We do hope that the cooperation between the two communities and the constructive cooperation from Turkey will help overcome this point” he added.
Asked if a solution to the Cyprus problem is possible within 2016, Minister Kasoulides expressed his hope, adding that “it is not certain, because essential issues like the one of the question of the guarantees has not yet advanced to such a point, where we can see light at the end of the tunnel. The territorial issue has not been discussed yet. But if we manage to agree on these, why not? We shall have to wait for the next months to see how it progresses”.
Invited to comment on the energy cooperation between the two countries, Foreign Minister Kasoulides highlighted that ENI is here to stay for many years to come. “Perhaps ENI will acquire, if there is a successful tender, further blocks. This ties Cyprus to Italy even further apart from Mediterranean Sea and the European factor that unite us”, he underlined.
On the same question, Italian Minister Gentiloni repeated that energy is now a factor of potential cooperation in the Mediterranean. “ENI is committed to Cyprus and is also working on new tenders. It is already committed and also to other countries in the region. The proximity of these natural gas discoveries is very interesting and could be translated into common approaches in the next years. We have huge potential here, but then again an agreement on the Cyprus problem will help to also give a boost to regional energy cooperation”.
Source: Cyprus News Agency