Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Denmark met in Cyprus

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Denmark met in Cyprus

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, met today, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lefkosia, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark, Mr Anders Samuelsen, in the framework of the Danish Minister’s visit to Cyprus. Earlier, Minister Samuelsen was also received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.

The two Ministers had a tête-à-tête meeting, followed by official talks of the delegations of the two countries and statements to the Press. The latest developments on the Cyprus problem, the EU-Turkey relations and the Brexit were, inter alia, discussed.

In his statements to the Press, Minister Kasoulides, upon welcoming his Danish counterpart to Cyprus, said that there was a very constructive exchange of views on certain key issues of mutual interest, as part of the ongoing political cooperation between the two countries.

Minister Samuelsen was briefed by both the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem “and the unwillingness of Turkey to run the last meters of this marathon”. Minister Kasoulides also expressed Cyprus’ appreciation to Denmark’s principled position on the Cyprus problem, as well as to the more than 22.500 Danish men and women, who had served in UNFICYP.

“Turkey’s continuous distancing from European norms and standards is an issue of concern among all EU member states”, Cyprus Foreign Minister said, adding that within this context, “I explained to Mr Samuelsen our approach regarding the EU-Turkey relations. I particularly highlighted that Turkey has taken no steps towards fulfilling its contractual obligations as these arise through its Negotiating Framework, including its obligations vis-à-vis the Republic of Cyprus, and it would, therefore, be a paradox to discuss further benefits to Turkey such as the upgrading of the Customs Union and the visa liberalization”.

Moreover, the two Ministers discussed the ongoing negotiations on the Brexit. “It is rather disconcerting that we are approaching the October European Council, but no real progress has been achieved thus far. The ‘27’ maintain a unified front on core issues, such as on the rights of the EU citizens and market access, and we are all keen to see substantial movement on the Brexit front, so that we can then move on the future relationship with the UK”, Minister Kasoulides highlighted.

Specifically, Mr Kasoulides briefed Mr Samuelsen on the Cyprus-specific issues related to the British Bases on the island and on the rights of the Cypriot citizens residing and working there.

In addition, Foreign Minister Samuelsen also presented Denmark’s candidature for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “Denmark has pitched a solid candidature and I think it is one of the most serious contenders in this race”, Cyprus Foreign Minister underlined, reiterating once again Cyprus’ disappointment that the criteria set for the relocation of EMA were restrictive and were not providing a level playing field for all EU member states to compete.

On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark thanked Minister Kasoulides for the warm welcoming and the fruitful meetings he had today, in the context of his visits to EU countries.

Minister Samuelsen said that Denmark is very proud to have contributed in keeping peace in Cyprus and I am very happy that you have mentioned that already about 22.000 soldiers have been to Cyprus. “It is a great part of our history and we are very satisfied for that”, he added.

Regarding the Brexit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark said: “It is good that the UK has started proceeding papers. We scrutinize them now and we do fully support the Commission and the EU 27 unity. It is clear that we want a close relationship, but we want rights and obligations to be balanced. That is important especially for countries like ours that have a lot of treaties with the UK”.

He further highlighted that with Minister Kasoulides, they agreed that the EU should deliver tangible resource on issues that matters to the European citizens and the future, such as secure borders, end of migration, create jobs and growth. “We agreed on the importance of free trade and have many common interests. Both our countries have a significant merchant industry including fisheries and shipping and can work together to promote maritime interests also”, Mr Samuelsen noted.

As regard the Danish candidature for the EMA, the Danish Minister had the opportunity to present the proposal of Denmark, stressing that “we think that, based on the objective criteria, Denmark has a good offer and I am very happy that you listened to the offer and the bid from Denmark”.

On the Cyprus problem, Minister Samuelsen was briefed on the current situation, expressing his appreciation for the hard work and strong engagement and leadership, despite the lack of outcome on the Conference for Cyprus in Crans Montana. “I encourage and support Cyprus in the continuous effort to seek a solution”, he stressed.

Invited to say whether he agrees with Minister Kasoulides that the criteria set for the relocation of EMA were restrictive for the smaller EU states, such as Cyprus, Danish Foreign Minister Samuelsen said: “There is no doubt that when you set up criteria, it is important that the Agency should be able to hit the ground running, to have what they want, including connecting flights and other criteria like that. Of course, it puts Cyprus in a difficult situation”.

Asked if Cyprus will support the candidature of Denmark for the relocation of EMA, Minister Kasoulides highlighted that “Denmark has presented a very good case and stands very good chances. You know that the process is kind of dynamic; it is not just a ballot-box and you put one preference. By the end of the month we are going to have the evaluation of the Commission. Accordingly, we are sitting next to each other and we will continue talking about this”./IBNA