Statement to the Press by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, following consultations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Sameh Shoukry
Nicosia, 14 December 2021
I am very pleased to welcome to Cyprus my dear colleague and friend Sameh. As you already know, we maintain regular contact and communication with Sameh, and his visit here today ― less than a month after our last meeting in Athens ― is part of our open and regular coordination on a multitude of issues of common interest.
Today’s deliberations provided an excellent opportunity to hold an in depth discussion on our bilateral, trilateral and regional partnerships, which are going from strength to strength, for the benefit of our peoples and also of our whole region. We reviewed the entire spectrum of our cooperation, and exchanged views on the next steps that lie ahead in our efforts to build a secure, peaceful and more prosperous future for the generations to come.
As you might expect, a large part of our discussions were devoted to our bilateral ties, which I am pleased to note are now at an all-time high. Within this context, we reviewed the progress achieved on the basis of what we had agreed during the 1st G2G meeting between Cyprus and Egypt that took place in Cairo last September, in the presence of our Presidents. At the same time, we followed up on a number of issues that our respective authorities have been working on, implementing the road map that will lead us into the 2nd G2G meeting foreseen to take place in the autumn of next year.
Against this backdrop, we have just signed with Sameh the first of a number of bilateral instruments we have in the pipeline, a Memorandum of Understanding on the cooperation between the recently established Cyprus Diplomatic Academy and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies of Egypt. It is important to note that this is the first such Memorandum we sign with a country of our region, and I am convinced that there is a lot of benefit to be derived for both sides from the cooperation that will ensue, bringing our Foreign Ministries and our diplomats even closer together in the years to come.
Together with Sameh and our associates, we also took stock today of our recent Trilateral and Quadrilateral meetings in Athens, with Greece and with France. We noted with satisfaction the strategic nature that these formations have been assuming ― always on the foundation of a positive agenda ― as well as their added value to our shared endeavours and aspirations for the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader region. Acknowledging their vast potential, we further explored and discussed possible next steps along the path of their enhancement.
Moreover, we exchanged views on the Middle East Peace Process, on the situation in Libya ahead of the scheduled, upcoming elections, and of course on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. On my part, I highlighted our deep concern regarding Turkey’s increasingly revisionist and destabilizing foreign policy, as manifested in various hot points across the entire region.
Regarding the Ethiopian Dam, I had the opportunity to renew Cyprus’ support in reaching a timely and mutually agreed solution that will precede a third filling of the dam. On this issue, we very much share Egypt’s concerns stemming from the existential nature of the problem, since the Nile’s waters have always been vitally important to the countries of the region. As a Member State of the European Union, Cyprus firmly believes that the EU has a significant role to play in achieving an agreement on GERD.
Moreover, we had the opportunity with Sameh to exchange views on the current state of affairs in EU-Egypt relations. Egypt is a strategic partner for the EU in the region in many ways, predictable and reliable, and as such we will continue to actively support the enhancement of its ties and relations with Europe.
As the closest EU Member State to the region, geographically, we aspire for Cyprus to continue to act as the bridge with the EU, not only for Egypt but for the entire region, consistently making the case for the region’s importance from the perspective of Brussels. At the same time, we shall continue to advocate for the EU’s need to be present, engaged and active in this part of the world, which is after all the EU’s own neighbourhood, and one of great geostrategic importance.
On my part, I also had the opportunity today to brief Sameh on the latest developments in relation to the Cyprus problem. I expressed our disappointment for the intransigent stance of the Turkish government when it comes to international efforts led by the UN Secretary General to reach a solution through negotiations that will reunite the island on the basis of the agreed framework, as set out by the relevant UNSC resolutions, and in line with International and European Law.
At the same time, I reaffirmed our readiness and commitment to continue to engage constructively towards the achievement of this goal. Egypt’s steadfast support in our efforts, in international and regional fora, is vitally important and greatly appreciated.
Cyprus and Egypt have a shared understanding that geography is destiny ― it cannot be changed. It is up to us, therefore, the countries of the region to turn our geography into blessing. You can be sure that we will never tire to work towards this goal, together with all like-minded countries in the region.
Once again, my dear Sameh, a very warm welcome to Cyprus.
Photo ©PIO, Andreas Loucaides