Statement to the Press by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Christodoulides at the Ministerial Meeting of the EU’s Southern Countries (Med 7)
Athens, 11 June 2021
[translated from Greek]
First of all, I would like to warmly thank my friend, the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiades Varvitsiotis, for the excellent organization and preparation of the Meeting, as well as for the warm welcome and hospitality.
The continuous dialogue between the seven Mediterranean States of the European Union, as well as the coordination between us in order to address common challenges and to put forward and promote common positions within the big family to which we belong ― that of the European Union ― is undoubtedly of paramount importance.
The necessity for this has been further highlighted by the unprecedented crisis of the pandemic we are experiencing: the crucial importance of coordinated action at European level with the aim of returning to normality as soon as possible and, above all, restarting our economies, with an emphasis on tourism given that this sector is essential for our economies as Mediterranean countries.
In this context, the support to EU Member States from the Recovery and Stability Mechanism is a powerful tool, in our effort to make our economies even more sustainable and better suited to meet the challenges and, in essence, to turn the effects of the pandemic into opportunities for bolstering the resilience and competitiveness of our economies so that they will meet the needs of the times and promote, inter alia, the green transition and digital transformation whilst safeguarding social rights.
In addition, our meeting today is a good opportunity for us to exchange views and to determine a common line on the big challenge facing the European Union, and in particular the front-line countries ― that of migration. We all agree that in order to deal effectively with the disproportionately large migratory flows facing the Mediterranean Member States of the European Union, we must ensure that the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum is based on a balance between the principles of responsibility and solidarity.
At the same time, it is important to highlight the need to strengthen cooperation with third countries to prevent irregular flows to the EU, while taking into account lalso their own needs and priorities.
We strongly believe that the adoption of a comprehensive migration policy that takes into account and effectively addresses the sensitivities, particularities and needs of all Member States, will be beneficial, inter alia, for the proper functioning of the Schengen area, which is undoubtedly one of the major achievements of the EU and a symbol of European integration.
Cyprus, as a front-line Member State, is called upon, especially in recent years, to manage an extraordinary situation due to an unprecedented increase in migration flows.
The situation unfortunately remains concerning, on the one hand due to the systematic instrumentalization and exploitation of human suffering by certain States, and on the other hand due to Turkey's refusal to cooperate and fulfill its contractual obligations towards Cyprus, including the Readmission Agreement with the European Union.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today we also had the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as our joint efforts to strengthen our relations with the countries of the Southern Neighbourhood.
We are convinced that the Eastern Mediterranean ― a region of strategic importance to the EU ― can become an area of stability, peace and prosperity. This is our vision and we are working towards this direction, expanding the network of regional cooperation with like-minded countries in the region. Always without excluding anyone and on the basis of a positive agenda, with the sole condition of respect for International Law and the principles of good neighbourly relations.
Unfortunately, in particular of late, we have been witnessing an aggressive rhetoric on the part of Turkey against an EU Member State, with threats of resumption of illegal actions within the EEZ of Cyprus and the creation of new, unacceptable faits accomplis within the fenced area of Famagusta. Actions aimed at, inter alia, undermining stability and cooperation in the region, but also forcing a form of solution to the Cyprus problem that not only lies outside the agreed framework and the principles and values of the EU, but also, and this is particularly important at this time, is in stark contradiction with the will of the vast majority of the Cypriot people, Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike.
In a few days, the European Council is expected to examine and address in particular all these issues within the framework of its debate on the future of EU-Turkey relations.
We sincerely hope that the outcomes of this debate will be such, that will strengthen the EU's credibility, highlight in practice and in essence its desire to play a more decisive geopolitical role, send the message that the EU's fundamental principle of solidarity between Member States is not empty of content, is not limited to public statements and, most importantly ― because this is what is required at the end of the day ― it can act as a deterrent.
In closing, I would like to thank again my friend Miltiades and all my colleagues for the sincere and constructive dialogue and to reiterate our willingness and readiness to expand and deepen coordination between us, for the benefit of our countries, of the Mediterranean and of the European Union as a whole.
I thank you.