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09-05-2024 20:01

Press remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Constantinos Kombos, following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Mr Juraj Blanár

Dear Minister,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you here in Nicosia on this very special day. Today, we celebrate Europe Day, a day of symbolic significance and a reminder of how far we have travelled together after our accession to the European Union (EU).

We have a common European destiny and, in addition to that, we also have an excellent level of bilateral relations, which we have discussed thoroughly today. We also agree that we have the political will and intention to work on these excellent relations and try to improve them even further.

More specifically, we discussed matters relating to trade, tourism, defence, education and innovation, and building on the growing people-to-people and business-to-business ties, which, of course, depend on the excellent and efficient air connectivity that we have established between our two countries.

Secondly, I briefed the Minister and his delegation on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem. I reconfirmed that our position is absolutely clear. We are ready to support and work with the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General's personal envoy in order to resume substantive negotiations for a comprehensive and viable solution within the UN agreed framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. That is our commitment, and this is the only framework and the only basis upon which we can engage. I also had the opportunity to express our deep appreciation for Slovakia's principled approach with regard to the Cyprus problem, and for the invaluable contribution of the Slovak contingent to UNFICYP for at least two decades. This is something that is extremely important for us and, dear Minister, we are thankful.

Thirdly, we discussed the recent European Council Conclusions and the Union's clear and positive message to Turkey as regards the EU-Turkey relations, which have to be merit-based and are interlinked, inter alia, with the Cyprus problem.

Lastly, we discussed issues of common European and regional interest. There are many developments taking place that directly affect both our countries and the EU.

In this context, we discussed EU reforms and enlargement as two parallel but distinct processes, which should not be linked. On enlargement, Cyprus reiterated its position and commitment to support the accession process of candidate countries, especially of the Western Balkans, on a merit-based approach. As regards the necessity for EU internal renforms, we are actively engaging and willing to participate in all relevant discussions, with an open mind and a plethora of arguments as to all proposals that have been taken.

On Ukraine, we reaffirmed our commitment in support of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, and we discussed the ways in which our two countries have been providing support, in specific and tangible terms, to Ukraine and its people.

Finally, the unfolding situation in the Middle East is a tragedy that urgently needs to come to a sustainable end through an immediate ceasefire. Part of that arrangement is, of course, the unconditional release of all hostages and also the pathway towards a political horizon that would lead to a solution of two states, as provided in the relevant UN resolutions.

I would also like to make a point as to our deep concern in relation to the impact of an operation in Rafah, which holds over 1.5 million people, most of them displaced. This cannot happen as the consequences will be catastrophic and irreversible. We call for full respect of international humanitarian law for the need to ensure full functioning of the vital Rafah land crossing and full respect for the sanctity of human lives.

Dear Minister, dear friend, once again, let me take the opportunity to welcome you to Cyprus and thank you for the very fruitful and constructive discussions. I look forward to continuing our deliberations.

Thank you.