Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, following the joint meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus - Greece - Serbia
Belgrade, 5 April 2021
It is always a great pleasure to visit Belgrade, especially today on the occasion of the first tripartite meeting with my esteemed colleagues, the Foreign Ministers of Serbia and Greece. At the outset, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, my good friend Nikola, for the warm hospitality extended to us and our delegations.
As already mentioned, during today's meeting with Nikola and Nikos we had the opportunity to review the prospects for further strengthening the existing strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between the three countries. Our goal is none other than the creation and promotion of a positive agenda, for the benefit of our peoples, with the overarching goal of enhancing stability and prosperity in the wider region of the Western Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. Drawing on the experience of such formations with other countries I am certain, that our contacts and cooperation in the near future will be intensified at all levels, so that further tangible results will emerge in specific areas in the very near future.
The fact that this meeting takes place in the midst of the pandemic is solid proof of the importance that all three countries attach to the further development of the traditionally strong ties that connect our countries.
In this context, addressing the adverse effects of the pandemic featured high on the agenda of the meeting. On this issue, I would also like to publicly congratulate the Serbian Government on the rapid pace of vaccinations, which rank among the top in the world based on the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated to date.
During our discussion, I had the opportunity to inform my distinguished colleagues about the recent decisions of the Government of Cyprus, which will allow the gradual resumption of tourist flows. Based on these decisions, as of April 1, citizens of specific countries, including Serbia, will be able to visit Cyprus, with the sole requirement of a negative PCR test. This development is the first important step in gradually resuming connectivity between our countries.
We also exchanged views on current issues of common interest, as well as on common challenges facing our countries, such as the issue of migration flows. We also discussed energy issues and ways of cooperation, taking into account Serbia's interest in energy developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, as manifested by the country's participation in a recent meeting in the framework of energy cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel. Strengthening our economic cooperation through joint actions that can stem from the implementation of our strategy for economic diplomacy, was also discussed given the strong prospects for cooperation in this area, and we agreed to organize a Forum that will bring our business communities together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For my part, I also had the opportunity to brief my colleagues on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue, in view of the informal Conference to be convened at the end of the month in Geneva. The sole goal is the resumption of substantive negotiations from the point where negotiations stopped at Crans Montana, to reach a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem that will really reunite the country on the basis of a bizonal bicommunal federation, in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and EU law, values and principles, without anachronistic systems and structures that have no place in the 21st century.
At the same time, the EU's meaningful participation in the discussions on resolving the Cyprus problem, as well as the existence of a climate conducive to a solution, without provocative statements and actions, either on land or at sea, are essential components for a successful outcome of the ongoing effort.
We also held a very open and constructive exchange of views on the latest developments in the Western Balkans, as well as on the European perspective of the countries in the region. On this occasion, we reaffirmed our strong support to Serbia's accession process and expressed our willingness to continue to provide all possible assistance, both politically and at a technical level, for the fulfillment of this strategic objective. Moreover, we reaffirmed our commitment to the principles of international law, as clearly expressed in our policy of non-recognition of Kosovo's Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
At the bilateral level, we signed earlier today a Memorandum of Cooperation in the Field of Youth Policy with the Minister of Youth and Sports of Serbia. I consider the Memorandum extremely important, not only because it further strengthens the institutional framework of the Cyprus-Serbia bilateral cooperation, but also because it aims to strengthen cooperation between young people from the two countries.
Concluding, I would like to reiterate that the ties between Cyprus, Serbia and Greece have a strong historical, cultural and political foundation. The goal of all three of us is to build on these foundations to expand and deepen our cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.
Thank you once again, dear Nikola, for the excellent hospitality.
[Photos © Serbia MFA, Tanjug News Agency]