Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, following his meeting with the Federal Minister of Austria, Ms Karoline Edtstadler
It is with great pleasure that I welcome to Cyprus the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and the Constitution, my dear friend and colleague, Karol, and her delegation.
Austria and Cyprus share a long history of close friendship that has been enhanced in our capacity as members of the European Union family, sharing the same democratic values and principles.
Today’s productive deliberations offered a timely opportunity to discuss the pressing issues on the European agenda, and ways of enhancing coordination and cooperation on EU matters.
The pandemic has shed light precisely on this: on the importance of coming together to address and overcome common challenges, globally and in the context of the European Union, a project that is firmly anchored on cooperation.
And so, Karol, I believe that the fact that this meeting takes place despite the pandemic, reflects the importance that we both attach to the enhancement of our bilateral relations, but also our determination to address common challenges as European partners.
Today, we also exchanged views on a range of current issues that feature prominently on the European agenda, including the significant impact of migration on our countries and on our respective regions. We discussed, additionally, issues pertaining to the Conference of the Future of Europe, EU-UK Relations, Western Balkans, as well as EU-Turkey relations.
Regarding the Conference of the Future of Europe, we expressed our joint commitment to explore opportunities for cooperation and to encourage our people, especially the young population to participate, since they have a central role in shaping the future of the European project. Cyprus attaches great importance to the goals of the Conference. In this context we joined forces with Austria and signed today the Alpbach Declaration which highlights the necessity for cooperation and dialogue to ensure that the EU has a successful future.
We had an extensive discussion also on the crucial issue of migration, which is currently being examined at the EU level in the margins of the legislative package on migration. I reiterated the serious migratory pressures Cyprus has been under in recent years, and our deep concern over Turkey’s continuing, concerted, shameful policy to use migration as leverage to score political gains.
Recent events have proven that it is more urgent than ever to conclude the negotiations of the Μigration and Asylum Pact. Focus should be on ensuring that the relevant legislative acts provide for mechanisms of effective and immediate response towards increased migratory flows. Front line member states cannot bear alone the responsibility for hosting immense numbers of asylum seekers.
Moreover, we had the opportunity to exchange views on the state of EU-Turkey relations, which have been challenging, to say the least, given Turkey’s remarkable backsliding in democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and its provocative behavior in the region and beyond, and against EU Member States.
As of 2005, Turkey has undertaken a series of obligations vis a vis the EU and all its member states, in a process that is characterized by strict yet fair conditionality. Regrettably, Turkey, despite repeated called by the EU, has failed to fulfil its EU obligations, including its Cyprus related obligations that inter alia require Turkey to normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus, as well as implement the Additional Protocol fully and in a non-discriminatory manner.
I also thoroughly informed my good colleague Karol, on Turkey’s most recent provocations and illegal actions of Turkey towards Cyprus, including in the fenced area of Varosha where, as stated by the United Nations Security Council and the EU, Turkey is acting in breach of international law and the relevant UNSCRs. The international community, the EU, have called for an immediate reversal of Turkey’s actions with the EU clearly stating that should this not materialize on Turkey’s behalf, EU will take appropriate actions. Karol agreed that EU solidarity in tangible terms is absolutely necessary.
I also informed the Minister, on the state of play in our efforts to resume negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, yet another area where Turkey has failed to fulfil its EU obligation to contribute concretely and positively in the negotiations, in line with UNSCRs and EU law, values and principles. The latest positions put forward by the Turkish side run contrary to all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and to the common EU position as clearly set out on a number of occasions in relevant Decisions and Conclusions. I explained that we rely on the international community and particularly on our EU partners to convey the right messages to Turkey.
Let me warmly welcome you once again to Nicosia, and reiterate the importance we attach on enhancing our ties, bilaterally, and in the context of the EU.
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