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30-09-2020 13:21

Statement to the press by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, on the occasion of the visit to Cyprus by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain, Ms Arancha González Laya

I am very pleased to welcome to Cyprus my good friend, Arancha González Laya, and the members of her delegation.

Cyprus and Spain share a long history, dating back centuries. Over the years we have established a concrete relationship, at the political and economic level, as well as people to people contacts.During our discussion today we reaffirmed our mutual will to work with a view to further enhancing and expanding our cooperation, in fields such as trade, investment, education and tourism.

We had the opportunity to review the full spectrum of our rich bilateral relations, and exchange views on issues that are high on the European agenda. We also discussed various pressing issues in our region and beyond that are of common interest and concern.

These past few months have been extremely challenging due to the coronavirus pandemic, proving that only by working together we can achieve concrete results. New opportunities but also new challenges have highlighted the need for a closer dialogue, which we, as Mediterranean states and close partners in the European Union family, are ready to actively explore. 

Within this context, we established that Cyprus and Spain have a shared interest and common approach on gender issues, in relation to which we would both like to see a gender perspective integrated in all key processes in future EU policies. In this regard we would like to examine possible initiatives between our countries both at the multilateral and bilateral level.

I also had the opportunity to express our appreciation for Spain’s continued support to our efforts to reunify Cyprus, as well as for Spain’s support within the Council of Europe, on the need for Turkey to fully implement all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

As you might expect, following the various discussions we repeatedly had at the Foreign Affairs Council, I briefed Arancha in-depth on Turkey’s escalating provocations, as well as the extension of its illegal drilling operation on the very day that the President of the European Council was visiting Cyprus and a few days before the last Foreign Affairs Council. It is clear that these actions threaten our collective EU interests, and the stability of the region.

The departure of Oruc Reic from the Greek continental shelf and the non-renewal of the relevant NAVTEX is a positive first step, which needs to be lasting in order to be able to talk of real de-escalation.

Unfortunately, at the same time, as you all know, signals of de-escalation have not been extended to Cyprus. On the contrary, in Cyprus’s maritime zones we are witnessing escalation, and disregard by Turkey of the repeated, collective EU calls to terminate its illegal actions and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, a Member State of the European Union.

Tomorrow’s European Council will hold a crucial, strategic discussion on Turkey, in light of these developments, following numerous discussions and decisions. Cyprus looks to the EU and its partners for solidarity in action. Concretely upholding our common values and interests, and implementing our own decisions is of the essence.

The issue of migration was also on our agenda. We welcome the publication of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum and we stand ready to work towards the swift adoption of the relevant legislative acts, especially in cooperation with other like-minded countries, such as Spain.

We also exchanged views on other issues that are of key importance, namely the Conference on the Future of Europe and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Regarding the Conference on the Future of Europe, we are looking forward to reaching an inter-institutional agreement. As regards the Recovery and Resilience Facility, we consider it as one of the very important achievements of the EU in recent years, a tangible action of solidarity and determination to take drastic initiatives to protect and promote EU citizens’ welfare.

Dear Arancha,

I warmly welcome you once again to Cyprus, I very much look forward to continuing and building on our discussions.