The President of the Republic of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron, made statements to the Press following the deliberations of the Southern EU Countries Summit
The 5th Southern EU Countries Summit was held today, 29 January 2019, at the Filoxenia Conference Center, in Lefkosia. The Summit was hosted by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, with the participation of the President of the Republic of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron, the Prime Ministers of the Republic of Malta, Mr Joseph Muscat, the Hellenic Republic, Mr Alexis Tsipras, the Republic of Italy, Mr Giuseppe Conte, the Republic of Portugal, Me Antonio Costa, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles.
Following the deliberations of the Summit, the six Heads of State and Government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, made statements to the Press.
Speaking in French, through interpretation in English, the President of the Republic of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron, said:
“Thank you very much President, thank you Nicos, thank you dear colleagues. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here in Cyprus for the first time after my election, and I would particularly thank President Anastasiades for the qualitative hospitality and the quality of exchanges we had, firstly bilateral exchanges and then with our partners from the Southern Mediterranean.
Bilateral relationships between Cyprus and France are excellent and they are nourished with exceptional communication and cooperation especially in the sectors of energy and defence.
Cyprus is indeed an important port for the air-naval Charles de Gaulle and I would like to thank and demonstrate again this cooperation shows this sovereign Europe which can protect itself and this is a very important dimension of defence, and during last year. Once again I would like to thank you all here, I would like to thank the Cypriot Authorities for the strategic links that we had. This allowed us to open new prospects to further intensify the close relationships between the two countries.
The organization of this 5th Summit of Southern Countries today in Cyprus is symbolic for many reasons. The first of all it is an opportunity to reconfirm our solidarity to Cyprus and I would like to remind you the need to respect the Cypriot sovereignty. France was very concerned vis-à-vis the situation in the open sea of Cyprus and I would like to tell you Mr President not only our solidarity, but also our support. And is a subject that I had the opportunity to mention with Mr Erdogan. The organization of this Southern Countries meeting in Cyprus is another opportunity to remember the negotiations in Cyprus towards the reunification. I do know the commitment of President Anastasiades vis-à-vis this issue, which is enormous for the EU and the stability of the region.
I believe that this format that we represent, the MED7, is a political format, which is very important, because first of all we have one community of approaches at strategic level, because we are all countries of the South and the Atlantic, in matters of migration, energy, safety, in view of a wider integration of the EU. We have the same ideas, the same opinions and also the coordination that these meetings allow us to have. And your declaration Mr President reminds us of what is principled, and this witnesses of what I am saying.
So, I would like to underline three issues:
The first one has to do with migration. Cyprus is one of the Mediterranean countries with migration. In 2018, the Western Mediterranean became the first gate of entry of migrants and tonight we had the opportunity to discuss in detail this topic, in order to defend this idea, to coordinate our actions within Europe and this is how we have managed to converge in the context of the European Council on this issue.
Also, we are defending a pragmatic operation way of seeing migration. And I would like to thank my friend, the Prime Minister of Malta, for trying to find efficient and humane ways. More than ever, it is the interest of all of us and now we are talking about a ship, which is very close to Sicily with four hundred migrants. We mentioned this with the Prime Minister of Italy and we have agreed that a concrete and complete solution should be implemented. And I think that I should remind you of the three principles: the respect for the Law of the Sea and at this point this ship should go to Italy because it is closer and has always said and reiterated that you are always ready to take a commitment vis-à-vis this ship. And then the principle of law. We have to struggle against trafficking and NGOs should also respect the rules within this kind of operations. All of the above can and should become a permanent mechanism. This was the object of our discussion.
Our meeting allowed us also to discuss on various things such as the climate change and to have a more integrated Europe and also the defence of the Eurozone, which was part of the Conclusions of our last meeting. We hope that is going to be finalized. And also the finalizing the banking Union and we will have the opportunity later to discuss about Brexit and also the rejection from the House of Commons in Britain of the agreement. This Agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK is one of the best and it is not renegotiable. In the House of Commons, I hope that Britain will be able to present it to Mr Barnier, what will happen in order not to have a Brexit without any agreement. But however, we have to be prepared for such a possibility.
We will also exchange opinions about the future of Europe, regarding the economic mechanism, which is an emergency, and this was expressed by all of us and by Antonio Costa with a lot of strength. It is the wish of all of us of this vision to offer a clear idea to our citizens in order to understand and to feel the European idea. We had a debate on the European elections and to submit this to the European citizens. No election before was so important for Europeans in general.
For closure, please allow me to say a word for Mr Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaef. I would like to congratulate both of you of what we will be able to call Northern Macedonia to settle a problem that dates back 30 years and with the signing of the agreement of Prespes sets a magnificent example for Europe. It sends a message of hope for all of us for the ability and the capacity of the people that have the will to settle such issues. And this gives us a lot of hope. We have to forget these taboos and we have to have these examples and it is in this spirit that I think we are going to continue our work and our proceedings and I thank you dear colleagues, I thank you dear Nicos, Mr President for your welcoming”.
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