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13-05-2024 20:14

Press remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Constantinos Kombos, following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Ms Mélanie Joly

Dear Minister, dear Mélanie,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you here today in Larnaka, in Cyprus.

Today, we had the opportunity to assess our bilateral relations.

As a starting point, we have a common understanding, we share the same principles, the same values. We are guided by our respect for international law and our commitment to multilateralism. This is particularly important in times of turbulence and with the cycle of crises that we are facing as we speak.

We are meeting here at the Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre (JRCC) and we have just been to Larnaka Port. These are two facilities that are strategic for Cyprus' humanitarian role in the region. This infrastructure is also very important for the evacuations that we have been conducting throughout the year, through the National Evacuation Scheme “Estia”.

First of all, on bilateral relations. Next year, we will be celebrating 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, and we share the political will to enhance and deepen these relations in all areas – economy, trade, services, security, defence, gender equality and marine emergency.

In addition to that, I would like to express our gratitude for the principled position that Canada has been consistently keeping in relation to the Cyprus issue, and also in relation to the contribution that Canada has been offering to UNFICYP in Cyprus, with more than 30,000 service men and women who have served here. This is something for which we are extremely thankful.

Second point about the Cyprus problem, which was, of course, discussed today. I would like to reiterate our clear commitment to the negotiating process and our full support for the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General's personal envoy. We are working with her and we will continue to do so, always within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions, for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. Within that framework, we are fully committed. Nothing outside that framework can be an item of discussion for our side.

We also discussed, in detail, the Cyprus Maritime Corridor, the “Amalthea” Plan. We have explained the procedure, the whole process, the various steps and phases. We are now at a really important point in time, where the American construction outside of Gaza is completed, and we are ready to utilise it and make the maximum possible use, in order to have scaled and increased volumes of aid departing from Cyprus and going to Gaza. That is extremely important, because the situation there is dramatic, the humanitarian needs are increasing, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to try and resolve this extremely problematic situation.

That, of course, is affected by a number of factors in relation to what is happening on the ground in Gaza. I would like to make a point as to our deep concern in relation to the impact of an operation in Rafah. 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 the full functioning of the Rafah land crossing and for full respect for the sanctity of human lives. We call for maximum restraint and containment. We also realise that a key component of any arrangement is the immediate release of the hostages.

Finally, we touched upon global issues like Ukraine, where we are reiterating our concerns over the continuation of Russia's war of aggression, reaffirming our firm commitment in our principled stance for respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine.

In this context, Cyprus welcomes the important joint Canada-Ukraine initiative, the "International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children". Thank you for extending an invitation to Cyprus and we are looking at that with a positive disposition.

Dear Mélanie, once again welcome to Cyprus. It has been a pleasure having you here. Thank you for the constructive discussions and we will be continuing our deliberations later on.