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02-04-2024 17:25

Press remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Konstantinos Kombos, following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Mr Péter Szijjártó

Dear Minister, Dear Péter,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you back in Cyprus. I believe this is your sixth visit to Nicosia and it is always a pleasure to have you here. 

Of course, today's visit is a bit different, because we are inaugurating the Hungarian Embassy in Nicosia, in reciprocity to the reopening of our Embassy in Budapest. And this, of course, is evidence of the progress achieved over the last few years at the bilateral level and that is, of course, partly attributed to you personally. 

Today we had the opportunity to have a substantial and fruitful discussion on a range of issues. I will make quick reference to five of those on the agenda. 

Firstly, bilateral relations. As I have already mentioned, there has been a significant progress, especially in areas like education and tourism, and this, of course, has been built upon the fact that we have excellent connectivity between the two countries. This is important for people-to-people and business-to-business engagement. That is a key factor that we will continue to facilitate in order to make sure that we have the space to further expand the bilateral relations in the tourism, education and business sectors.

In addition, we had a very important discussion as to the energy field. There is the common understanding that the European Union and its member states need to increase their autonomy in terms of reliance from sources of energy. Recent discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean create the hope that there could be a strong alternative, a corridor for the whole of Europe from Cyprus. We expressed our readiness to promote co-operation with the exchange of experts in relation to renewables, and, as I have already said, to the diversification of energy sources. 

Secondly, I briefed the Minister about the recent developments as regards the Cyprus Question. I expressed Cyprus’ appreciation for the principled stand of Hungary in relation to the Cyprus Question, whether that is before the Council of Europe or the United Nations (UN). Our position is very clear. We are working towards substantive negotiations on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as provided by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We are at a critical juncture. The two-state approach and equivalent rhetoric by the other side cannot be accepted. Not only for the Republic of Cyprus, but also as regards the international community as a whole. To this end, as I have said, we are appreciative of Hungary's principled stand. 

I also briefed the Minister about Turkey's ongoing strategy and the illegal secessionist entity to normalise illegality by making the latter be seen to be part of the international community. We, the international community, must not be misled. There is no other position than the full commitment to the UN Charter. No halfway approach can exist. Zero tolerance to the results of aggression and revisionism at all international fora. The illusion of normalisation is, in effect, opening Pandora's box for the international community, and as such is not just about the Republic of Cyprus. 

Thirdly, we discussed issues of common European interest. This is pertinent in view of Hungary's upcoming assumption, in July, of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and, of course, Cyprus’ Presidency during the first half of 2026. I was briefed on Hungary's priorities and once again, I express my sincere wish for a successful Hungarian Presidency. 

We also discussed issues relating to EU enlargement and EU reform and, of course, issues relating to the EU-Turkey basket, especially the Cyprus elements which are an integral component of that package. Solidarity between member states is, of course, an additional element to the already binding framework. 

Fourthly, we discussed the situation in Ukraine. We reaffirmed our commitment in support of the sovereignty, territorial integrity of Ukraine, always in alignment with EU policy. Ukraine is suffering from aggression and an illegal invasion. Cyprus’ historical and ongoing experience for five decades leaves no room for doubt as to where we stand. 

Finally, we discussed the developing situation in the Middle East post October 7th and the terrorist attacks by Hamas. We exchanged views as regards the parameters of the conflict, including the immediate release of the hostages, the immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the danger of escalation and spillover, the loss of life, the humanitarian crisis and the political horizon for a two-state solution. 

At this point, I would like to express our sincere and deep condolences to the victims from World Central Kitchen who have died in the last few hours in Gaza, where they were trying to help the people on the ground and they paid a heavy price for that. This is something that is extremely saddening for Cyprus. We have been working with World Central Kitchen and we know very much the pain that this is causing to them and to their families. We are sending our genuine and heartfelt condolences. All the issues relating to the circumstances should be fully investigated. But, in any case, we have to be absolutely clear that the loss of life, especially of those people that are there trying to help at the humanitarian front, is something that is completely unacceptable and should be fully explored as to why it happened, and there should be an accountability as well. 

So, dear Péter, once again, I would like to thank you very much for the visit, for the fruitful discussion, and I wish you a very successful EU Presidency.