Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Christodoulides following his deliberations with the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, ffairs and International Cooperation Mr. Gordan Grlić Radman
Nicosia,11 March 2021
I am delighted to welcome to Cyprus the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, my good friend and colleague Gordan.
This is a long anticipated visit dear Gordan. I am very pleased that deliberations were productive and results oriented, and on these we will build on, to give flesh and bones to our joint commitment to further strengthen ties between Cyprus and Croatia.
With Gordan we had the opportunity to follow up on number of issues that are part of the bilateral framework of our relations. We see great potential in the traditionally excellent ties our countries share, and we adamantly believe that the time has come to inject new momentum to our relations for an even more substantive relationship.
A first step in this direction is the signing today of the Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations between our Foreign Ministries, which will pave the way for taking forward our mutually advantageous cooperation, and foster better understanding of each other’s positions through regular consultations.
We both agree that it is essential to take concrete steps in creating additional opportunities to the benefit of our countries and our people. In the area of Research and Innovation for example, there is interest to explore collaboration between the respective authorities, Universities and research institutions, fully utilizing opportunities offered by EU Programmes. At the same time, we look forward to the signing of the bilateral Agreement on the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information, which was finalized recently between our respective National Security Authorities.
We also of course exchanged views on a range of current issues that feature prominently in our European agenda, including the significant impact of migration on our countries but also regionally, the Future of Europe, Western Balkans, and of course EU-Turkey relations ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council, as well as other regional and international affairs that are of common interest.
On the Western Balkans, Gordan offered his invaluable insights, as Croatia is a country of the region with a unique understanding of its importance and the dynamics involved. In this context, I stressed on my part the importance we attach to safeguarding the credibility of the EU vis-à-vis the European perspective of the countries of the region, which as for all candidate and potential candidate countries is based on strict and fair conditionality.
We spent a good part of our discussions on the common challenge Cyprus and Croatia face as front-line countries, that of the exponentially increasing migration flows we have been witnessing across the Mediterranean. Cyprus, along with some other front line States, has been disproportionally affected by these flows, and given Cyprus’s special characteristics and prevailing conditions, the challenges faced by Cyprus are accentuated and need to be urgently addressed at EU level. We remain deeply concerned, and we discussed at length ways of enhancing coordination in the efforts to address the situation in a more effective way at EU level.
I also had the opportunity to express to Gordan our appreciation for Croatia’s unwavering position and indispensable support with regard to the Cyprus problem.
I reiterated our side’s steadfast commitment to resuming negotiations for a comprehensive settlement that will reunify Cyprus in a bizonal bicommunal federation in line with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. We expect that the upcoming meeting at the end of April will pave the way for the resumption of meaningful, results-oriented negotiations. We see eye to eye on the critical role Turkey has to play and the importance in this regard of Turkey proving its commitment tangibly, by concretely contributing in the efforts to reach a solution.
Cyprus is a Member State of the EU, and will remain so after reunification and as such it is vital that the solution is fully in line with EU law, values and principles. As Josep Borrell noted both during and following his recent visit to Cyprus, but also as the European Council and the 27 Member States have reiterated on multiple occasions, EU participation in the negotiations is of utmost importance. Reunited Cyprus must be a functional state, a viable member state of the EU, a stable, reliable actor in its region. A modern European State not tied back by anachronistic systems and structures that have no place in the 21st century.
We both agree that as we strive for a meaningful process, it is important to impress upon everyone involved the need to refrain from provocations that pose the risk of derailing the effort. Turkey needs to commit to durable steps and show lasting good faith. In this respect, it is necessary to see a sustained and continued de-escalation by Turkey. That is an additional level of conditionality the EU has agreed upon when it comes to EU-Turkey relations.
There can be no doubt that a solution to the Cyprus problem is in the interests of Cyprus, in the interests of Turkey, of the EU and the region, and will certainly be catalytic for EU-Turkey relations. We look forward to seeing Turkey’s declared commitment to EU-Turkey relations materialise in concrete terms.
In closing let me just say that we take good note of the of Croatia’s interest to join the MED7 framework. We look forward to discussing this with our MED7 partners, where Croatia’s interest will be evaluated on its own merits – on our part, we see the added value.
Before turning the floor over to you, I wish to thank you once again warmly for taking the time to visit Cyprus in these particularly challenging times, and I look forward to continuing our deliberations over lunch.