Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicos Christodoulides, met on Friday in Nicosia with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Simon Coveney.
At a press conference that followed, Christodoulides said he had a very sincere and productive talk with his Irish counterpart on a wide range of issues.
The Cypriot Foreign Minister said that during the consultations the two sides had the opportunity to reaffirm the excellent level of their bilateral relations and the joint commitment to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in areas such as trade, investment, higher education and the tourism.
The Foreign Minister added that regional issues were discussed at the meeting with Mr Coveney, such as the situation in Syria and the Middle East Peace Process, while also exchanged ideas on the Cyprus-Ireland cooperation aimed at promoting peace and stability in the Middle East and the wider region.
“I am convinced that there is scope for joint action in this direction”, Christodoulides said, thanking Mr. Coveney for his interest in the region, as well as the relevant information he provided regarding his tour in Jordan and Israel.
Christodoulides pointed out that during the consultations he had the opportunity to present to the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs the tripartite initiatives developed by Cyprus with its neighbouring countries in cooperation with Greece, which aim to take joint actions to further promote solidarity , mutual understanding, and the promotion of conditions of peace, stability and prosperity. “We also discussed current issues in the Common European Agenda, as well as the latest developments with regard to Brexit and its impact on Cyprus and Ireland, since both countries are heavily influenced by the UK’s exit from the EU”, the Foreign Minister stated, stressing that Cyprus fully supports Ireland in this extremely sensitive issue.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, Christodoulides said that he informed his Irish counterpart of the commitment on the part of the Republic of Cyprus to the resumption of negotiations and the efforts made by the Republic in this direction. He also expressed his thanks for the steady and timeless support that Ireland provides in the efforts to reunify Cyprus and the solidarity it has shown to the people of Cyprus in difficult times. “We are”, he said, “grateful to the thousands of Irish soldiers who served at UNFICYP from 1964 to 2005, as well as to the Irish police officers serving in Cyprus since 1993”.
The Minister informed Mr Coveney of the developments in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus.
For his part, the Irish Foreign Minister said: “Cyprus is a beautiful island that more and more Irish people want to visit, and although we are at two different ends of Europe, we have a lot in common. We know what it means to live on a divided island, we know the difficulties of implementing a program of the International Monetary Fund, we perceive the benefits of our participation in the European Union and the protection it provides. We also share the same real interest in the Middle East peace process. For us, this is an issue that is high on our priorities”.
Furthermore, Coveney expressed the conviction that “there is much that could still be done to strengthen our already excellent bilateral relations”.
The Irish FM pointed out that both countries are adopting the same approach in relation to Brexit. “We want to see Britain as close as possible to Europe”, he said.
The strengthening of our cooperation, Coveney said, is necessary for many reasons, and the achievement of this goal “will allow us to work together for joint actions and initiatives that will serve the interests of the region, Cyprus and the European Union”.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Coveney expressed Ireland’s willingness and readiness to provide its assistance and support in every possible way to advance the process.
Finally, he expressed his particular satisfaction with his visit and extended an invitation to his Cypriot counterpart to visit Ireland./IBNA