Participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the EU Foreign Affairs Council and the 9th EU-Egypt Association Council
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, participated in the EU Foreign Affairs Council that took place today in Luxembourg.
The Ministers dealt with EU-Egypt relations, the latest developments in the Horn of Africa and the EU Strategic Cooperation with the countries of the Gulf. The effects of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine have also been a major topic of discussion, with ministers focusing on the food crisis and geopolitical implications. In addition, the Foreign Ministers attended an informal working lunch in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Mr. Sameh Shoukry. During his visit to Luxembourg, Mr. Kasoulides participated in the 9th EU-Egypt Association Council on Sunday night, reaffirming the importance the EU attaches to strategic cooperation with the country.
Speaking during the debate on Ukraine, the Foreign Minister stressed that the ongoing Russian invasion has created an unprecedented situation with serious side effects, the vibrations of which are felt far beyond the borders of the country, touching the daily lives of ordinary people worldwide. The food crisis is a huge challenge for the EU, which through a realistic approach must take initiatives, starting of course first from our neighborhood, stressed Mr. Kasoulides. In this context, he made special reference to Egypt, a key country, as he said, for the stability of the wider region. Given that 90% of Egypt's grain imports come from Russia and Ukraine, the effects of the war in Egypt are undeniably tremendous, the Foreign Minister said, noting that for a country like Egypt with a population of 100 million people, ensuring food adequacy is essential for social stability the country.
The Foreign Minister also referred to the prospect of Ukraine's accession to the EU, reiterating the need to ensure unity in the EU. Cyprus, he noted, is ready to support granting candidate status to Ukraine provided that a meritocratic approach will be followed without giving promises we cannot keep.
In his interventions in relation to Egypt, Mr. Kasoulides stressed that Cyprus, as a member state integrated in the Eastern Mediterranean region, supports the strategic strengthening of the EU's relations with Egypt. In this context, he stressed the importance of strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation with Egypt, a pivotal partner in promoting security, peace and stability in the region. Mr. Kasoulides also highlighted the role of Egypt in energy diversification and interconnection, welcoming the signing of the EU-Egypt-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, which, he said, is an important step towards achieving the goal of creating a reliable, alternative energy corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean region. In this context, Mr. Kasoulides pointed out that Cyprus has taken a number of initiatives through its tripartite cooperation mechanisms and its participation in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum ("EMGF"). Mr. Kasoulides referred in particular to the role of Egypt in migration but also in tackling climate change in view of the COP27 Summit that will be hosted by Egypt in November.
In the light of the momentum of the EU institutional dialogue in the region, Mr. Kasoulides reiterated Cyprus' position on the importance of convening the EU Association Council with Israel in the near future.