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09-07-2019 12:31

Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, on the occasion of the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

It gives me great pleasure to welcome to Cyprus my good friend and distinguished colleague, Ignazio Cassis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.

We had the opportunity in the course of our deliberations today to hold an in depth exchange views on wide range of issues, from our bilateral affairs, to European, regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

I am pleased to note that we have reaffirmed during our meeting that we share common values and aspirations in a large number of fields, such as human rights, International and International Humanitarian Law, climate change, as well as a strong commitment to multilateralism.  

On the bilateral front, we had a substantial and forward-looking discussion on the full spectrum of our relations. As always, there is room for further improvement and we therefore examined concrete ways in which we could strengthen our cooperation in a manner that is mutually beneficial.

On my part, I conveyed to Ignazio our deep appreciation for Switzerland’s invaluable financial contributions towards important projects in Cyprus, in areas which include inter alia education, civil society, research and innovation, waste management and protection of cultural heritage. I expressed our special appreciation for Switzerland’s generous financial contributions over the years in support of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus. These donations not only enhance the capacity of the Committee to carry out its mandate but their symbolism energizes the Committee and offers courage and hope to the families of the missing.

As you might expect, I took the opportunity during our meeting to brief Ignazio on the latest developments with regard to the Cyprus problem. I shared with him our strong commitment to the resumption of negotiations at the earliest — from the point where they were suspended exactly two years ago in Crans-Montana — with the aim of reaching a settlement on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, in line with International and EU Law, that will reunite Cyprus ensuring that it remains a functional, effective EU Member State.

I made it clear — and I think it is particularly important as Ignazio will be visiting Ankara in the coming days — that in order for negotiations to resume Turkey must first cease its illegal and provocative activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, which are in flagrant breach of International and European Law and the sovereign rights of the Republic. Unfortunately, the signs are not positive in this respect, as Turkey has chosen instead to escalate its provocations further in the last few days by proceeding with a new, illegal drilling operation within the Territorial Sea of the Republic. 

I have asked Ignazio to convey the message to Turkey, that it is only through dialogue that a solution can be reached, on the basis of the relevant UN Resolutions and the principles upon which the European Union is founded. We are ready to engage in such dialogue, provided that illegal activities within the EEZ of Cyprus will stop. 

In the course of our discussions, we also exchanged views on the future of relations between the EU and Switzerland, as well as on a number of regional and international issues which are of common concern, such as the conflict in Syria, its grave humanitarian consequences and its impact on the broader region. We agreed that it is imperative to have a nationwide ceasefire in order to establish unhindered humanitarian access throughout the country. On the peace process, we reiterated our support to the UN-led Geneva process. 

Dear Ignazio,

Closing, I wish to thank you warmly for your visit and I look forward to continuing and indeed enhancing our cooperation, both at a bilateral and at a multilateral level, contributing to the achievement of conditions of peace and stability in our region and in the world.