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06-08-2020 18:47

Statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, on the occasion of the visit by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud

It is a great pleasure and an honour to welcome today, my dear colleague, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Your visit, Your Highness, bears great significance, not least for the following two reasons:

First, it is a testimony of our joint firm commitment to give flesh and bones to our bilateral ties, taking into account the vast untapped potential there is but also the ripple effect this would have for the wider region.

Your visit is important for yet another reason. It comes at a critical period when the entire world is facing unprecedented challenges, from the pandemic to conflict and aggression. These challenges require cooperation and synergies with the aim of promoting regional security and stability.

At our consultations today, we had the opportunity to discuss various issues pertaining to our bilateral cooperation, focusing on tangible ways of further enhancing them in several fields. To this end, the MoU on political consultations will be immediately activated on the basis of a specific roadmap, with the purpose of promoting sectoral cooperation with deliverables. The first step will be taken at the level of Permanent Secretaries of our respective Ministries.

We also discussed extensively about the pressing challenges in our neighbourhood that are urgent for both the countries of the region and the EU. In this regard, we exchanged views on the situation in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iran, with Minister Al Saud offering an insightful account about Saudi Arabia’s effort towards de-escalation and the creation of conditions conducive to peace and security.

As regards Libya, the Minister informed me in detail regarding his contacts and deliberations about the situation on the ground. Moreover, we discussed the importance of having a more coordinated and action-oriented approach amongst like-minded countries. It is vital that we work together so as to avoid a repetition of the Syrian situation in Libya, where external actors engaging in gunboat diplomacy and pushing their revisionist agenda, are further destabilizing the country and increasing the risk of regional escalation.

On Yemen, we discussed developments concerning the November 2019 Agreement, expressing our support to all steps designed to help its implementation.  Addressing the dire humanitarian situation is vital and we welcome the recent timely initiative by Saudi Arabia and the UN for gathering humanitarian assistance for Yemen.  I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate Cyprus’ support and appreciation to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to find an overall solution to the Yemeni crisis, and also to underline our solidarity to Saudi Arabia in light of the constant missile raids targeting the Kingdom. We fully comprehend and appreciate Saudi Arabia’s priorities towards protecting and securing the safety of its citizens. 

On my part, I informed His Highness on the state of play of the various initiatives Cyprus, along with Greece and Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, as well as EU countries, such as France, are taking towards building collaboration with the aim of more effectively addressing regional challenges but also enhancing cooperation in such areas as energy and defence. 

We also had the opportunity to discuss about EU-Saudi relations. I reiterated our position that these ties are crucial in our joint efforts to successfully address the common challenges before us. As such, Cyprus will continue to actively advocate in Brussels for their substantive enhancement.

Last but not least, I informed the esteemed Minister about the latest developments in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, particularly the escalating illegal activities and aggressive behavior of Turkey. The solidarity and support from countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has a clear understanding of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, are indispensable to us.

In conclusion, I wish to once again warmly welcome you to Cyprus. I look forward to the further enhancement of our close collaboration and ties, to the benefit of our countries, peoples and the wider region.