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21-06-2024 17:35

Press remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr Constantinos Kombos, following his meeting with the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, Mr Enrique A. Manalo

Mr Secretary, dear Enrique,

It is with great pleasure that I am welcoming you and your delegation today, in Nicosia. It is worth noting that this is the first ever visit by a Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines to Cyprus and this is a historic moment.

From the outset, let me say that the framework for the further deepening of our collaboration exists.

We share core values: The values of democracy, respect for International Law, the Law of the Sea.

Within this context, Cyprus and the Philippines are maritime nations. We share a commitment to a maritime order, based on international law, including the long-established right of freedom of navigation for all merchant ships.

It is emphasised that Cyprus’ merchant fleet, which is the 11th largest worldwide, relies heavily on seafarers from the Philippines, with over 10.000 contributing significantly to the shipping industry of our country.

Furthermore, the presence of a large Filipino community in Cyprus, numbering also well over 10.000, significantly contributes to the development of people-to-people contacts.

Our discussion reflected the preceeding points. And we exchanged views a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

First, at the bilateral level.

Despite the geographical distance between our countries, Cyprus and the Philippines have always enjoyed a long history of interactions and friendship.

Next year we will commemorate the 45th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations. This occasion provides an opportunity to work towards that anniversary next year, in order to produce specific outcomes and results for our two peoples in the fields of economic and investment cooperation, education, culture, maritime affairs, security and cooperation in general.

We have also agreed to intensify our efforts, in order to conclude a number of bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding especially in the fields of education and culture.

Secondly, I updated the Secretary on developments in relation to the Cyprus Problem. I expressed Cyprus’ deep appreciation for the principled stance of the Philippines in relation to the Cyprus Problem.

Very briefly, our position remains very clear. We are committed to the United Nations (UN) framework, and exclusively to that framework, and we are working with the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General in order to have a breakthrough that will lead back to the negotiating table.

Thirdly, we discussed regional developments.

First, in relation to the Middle East, we agreed on the urgent need to reach a sustainable end to the war. We need an immediate ceasefire. We need a surge in humanitarian aid. We need to have the release of the hostages and continued respect for International Humanitarian Law. And, of course, all that would be accompanied by a solution, a political horizon on the basis of the two states, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

We are also deeply concerned about the further spillover of the conflict.

I take this opportunity to reiterate that Cyprus remains uninvolved in any military conflicts in the region and that our role is that of a facilitator for humanitarian aid, a role that has been widely recognised and acknowledged by the international community and, of course, by the United Nations.

In that context, I briefed in detail the Secretary in relation to the Cyprus Maritime Corridor.

We also discussed the developments in the Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.

Cyprus, as I already mentioned, is a strong supporter of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is the only legal framework within which activities should be taking place.

Our support to UNCLOS reflects our commitment to an international rules-based order. This is the exclusive basis for international peace, stability and prosperity. And on this front, we have discussed the recent challenges. Our position remains unchanged: full implementation of the rules that UNCLOS provides for.

Lastly, we exchanged views on the further enhancement of EU-Philippines ties.

We also expressed our support to Philippines in relation to the Free-Trade Agreements (FTA) negotiations and the further advancement of ties between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

We are looking forward to a conclusion that would enable the furthering of economic and trade ties between the European Union and the Philippines.

Dear Secretary, once again, I would like to welcome you to Cyprus. I thank you for the fruitful discussions we had today, and I look forward to continue our deliberations later on in the day.