Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, following his deliberations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Portuguese Republic, Mr Augusto Santos Silva
Ιt is a truly great pleasure to be visiting Lisbon, and to be meeting my good friend and colleague Augusto, particularly given that my visit coincides with the assumption by Portugal of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the fourth time.
Let me to congratulate you, and assure you that Cyprus is committed to being a source of support within the Council. To this end, we aim for an open and honest rapport with you throughout this period.
Your Presidency comes at a time of a greatly challenging European agenda. The pandemic has driven our societies and economies to the edge, putting in focus fundamental EU principles such as solidarity.
Cyprus and Portugal share long-standing ties of friendship and have always enjoyed excellent relations, both at the level of Government and of our people. This is a relationship we value immensely, and which we jointly aspire to further strengthen.
Today, we held constructive consultations, reviewing the architecture of our cooperation and specific ways to further enhance relations, both bilaterally and at EU level. And I am very pleased to attest that our convergence of views with Portugal, on an array of areas, is clear.
We underscored our desire to create synergies, and building on the momentum of this visit we expressed our joint commitment to work together closely in an array of fields, including trade and investment, education and culture. As a first step, we have decided that can we organise a bilateral Digital Roundtable Discussion with the participation of the main economic and business stakeholders from Cyprus and Portugal, such as Chambers of Commerce, Investment Promotion Agencies and Business Associations.
Additionally, we propose to explore cooperation in the area of Research & Innovation by promoting collaborations between Universities and Research Institutions, fully capitalizing on the opportunities offered by EU programmes. We will also work on the finalisation of the pending documents in the areas of Security (on the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information)and Εducation.
When it comes to EU matters, I would like to reiterate that we consider Portugal as one of our most reliable friends and partners. We may be at the two geographical extremes of our continent, yet we have mutual interests and concerns.
In this context, during our deliberations, I had the opportunity to reaffirm our support to the priorities set by the Portuguese Presidency. More specifically, we reaffirmed our common belief in a strong EU, based on its fundamental principles and values of democracy and solidarity.
We concurred on the crucial importance of working closely together, with a view to effectively tackling major European challenges, including the management of migratory pressures and the measures we need to adopt; the developments on Brexit Deal recently reached; as well as the negotiations concerning the Multi-Annual Financial Framework. As to the latter, the Portuguese Presidency is expected to focus on the completion of the legislative framework allowing our authorities to complete the programming documents, the soonest that would allow the flowing of long-awaited funds to our economies.
To this end, Cyprus is fully committed in advancing the employment and social agenda and the Portuguese Presidency can count on our support on the relevant legislative work. We look forward to the Social Summit to be hosted in Porto, in early May, and the very important impetus it is expected to give to the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Moreover, we had the opportunity to discuss the pandemic and its impact not only on our countries but also on a global level. We also exchanged views on a number of regional issues, on EU-Turkey relations, as well as international developments of common interest, including the Southern Neighborhood.
I also briefed the Foreign Minister on the enhancement of our relations with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greater Middle East, a region of particular importance, including from a geostrategic perspective. It is precisely for this reason that the EU ought to be more present, and to have a more active role in this region, that we must not forget, is the EU’s neighbourhood.
Last but not least, I had the opportunity to thoroughly brief Augusto on the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem – a European Problem at heart - and particularly on the need for Turkey to avoid actions that undermine the prospect for the resumption of meaningful negotiations, such as its decision to open the fenced area of Varosha and its illegal actions within Cyprus’ maritime zones.
I reiterated that our side remains steadfastly committed to the resumption of negotiations, fully supporting the UN Secretary General’s initiative in this regard, for a comprehensive settlement in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, with international and EU law. I also expressed Cyprus’s sincere appreciation for Portugal’s solidarity and support in our efforts to reunify Cyprus. It is our joint belief that the EU provides the best guarantee for a reunited Cyprus; in this regard the active involvement of the EU in the negotiating process is of utmost importance.
In closing, I would like to thank you for your hospitality, and congratulate you once again on the recent assumption of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. I look forward to working closely with you over the coming period to drive forward our bilateral and EU agenda.
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