The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, met today, at the Presidential Palace, with the Prime Minister of Malta, Mr Joseph Muscat, who is paying an official visit in Cyprus.
President Anastasiades welcomed Mr Muscat, whose country presides over the Council of the European Union, and an official welcoming ceremony took place. The National Anthems of the two countries were performed, followed by the laying of a wreath by the Prime Minister at the Monument of the First President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III.
The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister of Malta then held talks in the presence of their respective delegations, followed by their remarks to the Press.
In his statements, the President of the Republic said the following:
“It is both an honour and a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Muscat, who visits Cyprus as President of the Council of the European Union, at what can be described as very challenging times for Europe and its citizens.
As a small member state, that has recently completed its first term in the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we fully understand the demanding task you have undertaken. At the same time, I am confident that Malta will skilfully manage all these major challenges, taking into consideration the positions and concerns of all member states, and that the Maltese Presidency will be crowned with success.
During today’s meeting we had the opportunity to discuss the progress achieved so far on the priorities of the Maltese Presidency: Migration, Security, The Single Market, Social Inclusion, Europe’s Neighbourhood and Maritime policy.
We assured the Prime Minister of our unwavering support to the Presidency in taking its agenda forward. Cyprus and Malta share the same concerns and vision for our Union. I am certain that positive and tangible results will be achieved, and hope that the efforts of the Maltese Presidency will contribute to restoring the citizen’s trust and faith in the European Union.
In particular, we welcome and support your efforts, Mr Prime Minister, to implement EU’s comprehensive migration policies in full respect of human rights, international law and European values, in order to ensure positive results.
Safeguarding the stability and security in the Mediterranean Region is, and should be, one of the most important aspects of the Union’s efforts in addressing geopolitical security challenges.
In this context, we are fully on board with the priority set by your Presidency on the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood.
Furthermore, we exchanged views on Brexit, and the great challenges that will arise during the Presidency’s work, when Article 50 is triggered and the process begins.
Prime Minister Muscat’s visit coincides with a critical juncture in the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. I had the opportunity to brief Prime Minister Muscat on the latest developments:
The progress achieved during the last 22 months of intensive and painstaking negotiations, the pending issues that persist on significant issues, and the challenges that need to be surpassed so as to move forward.
I would like to express my gratitude and sincere appreciation for the support of the Maltese Presidency and the European Union in the efforts to find a solution that will reunify the Republic of Cyprus, safeguarding the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens, fully in line with EU law, values and principles.
In this context, we recalled with the Prime Minister that the best guarantee for any state is its membership in the EU. It is unthinkable that an EU member state should have military presence and guarantees by a third country, particularly in today’s current international environment and in a neighbourhood of extreme volatility.
We had a fruitful exchange with the Prime Minister on the recent regrettable developments, which saw the Turkish Cypriot side leaving the negotiating table, at a crucial moment when the key chapters of security and guarantees were expected to be discussed.
As I said to the Prime Minister, despite our deep disappointment, we remain firmly committed and we are ready to immediately resume the dialogue, and continue discussions where they were left off, on all six chapters.
We expect the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey as well, to constructively and tangibly contribute to the negotiations, an obligation it has also assumed in the context of its EU accession negotiations.
On my own behalf, I would like to once more reiterate, as I have demonstrated concretely and repeatedly at the negotiating table, the genuine and sincere will of the Greek Cypriot community for finding a solution: a solution that will not create winners and leave losers behind, with the ultimate aim for it to meet the concerns and expectations of all Cypriots.
In conclusion, we agreed that there is a need to chart a new course for our common future and our European project, based on our common fundamental values and principles.
And in this context, I want to welcome the ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe’, issued yesterday by the European Commission in view of the Rome Summit of 25 March 2017. We look forward to contribute constructively in the discussion that will follow.
Undoubtedly, this discussion should be carried out in unity and solidarity. We need to work towards more relevant, effective and targeted policies – we have already discussed and agreed on those – thus, rebuilding the Union’s credibility.
I wish to once again congratulate you for the important role you are called to carry out as Prime Minister of the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Cyprus will stand by the Maltese Presidency in solidarity, in order to make it possible to advance your priorities and make a lasting contribution to our Union. Once again welcome and thank you for your constructive role to this end.”
On his part, Prime Minister Muscat said, among other things, that “I do understand, believe and support the aspiration of your country to give the next generation of Cypriots an experience, that of having one’s own will decided by one’s own people.”
He added that “we will do whatever we can within our limited role realistically to support and to make an appeal for all parts to engage and to come around the table to rekindle the optimism that there was at the start of this year and I do hope that time will give good counselling and will prove that this is something that can really happen and is within grasp.”/IBNA