Τhe Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides participated in the informal Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU (Gymnich) which took place today, in Prague.
The Gymnich discussions focused on EU-Africa relations, the situation in Ukraine following the Russian invasion and the EU's coordinated response, while at a working lunch in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, the Ministers exchanged views in relation to the European perspective of these countries.
In his intervention on EU-Africa relations, Mr. Kasoulides referred to the need for the EU to work with partners on the African continent to jointly address security challenges effectively, expressing Cyprus' full support. Mr. Kasoulides emphasized the need to continue the EU's principle of "African solutions to African problems", by strengthening Africa's state and economic institutions, without imposing external solutions. At the same time, he underlined the need to find solutions to deal with the food crisis in Africa, ensuring the continuation of the uninterrupted movement and trade of food. A regards immigration, he pointed to the need to conclude agreements on the readmission of migrants with states on the African Continent.
Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the EU's coordinated response, the possibility of new EU restrictive measures against Russia was discussed. In this context, they exchanged views on the proposal to ban the issuance of visas for Russian citizens within the EU. In his intervention, Mr. Kasoulides highlighted the importance of taking measures directed against the Putin government, without harming or having negative impact on the Russian people. To this end, he expressed scepticism about the possibility of a complete and horizontal abolition of entry visas for all Russian citizens, noting the importance of maintaining contacts with civil society. He emphasized that the effectiveness of sanctions depends on the consistency in their application. He pointed out that due attention should be paid by the EU to Turkey's efforts to circumvent sanctions through its agreements with Russia. The exemption of banks and companies operated by Turkey from the framework of EU restrictive measures enables Russia to continue to procure materials that strengthen, among others, its defense industry. For this very reason, the Minister added, the EU must be alert and monitor the implementation of the Sochi Agreements, as well as Turkish moves and cooperation agreements concluded by Turkey with the Russian Federation.
On the sidelines of Gymnich, the Minister of Foreign Affairs held a bilateral meeting with his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Reinsalu.
Mr. Kasoulides returns to Cyprus this evening.