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Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Constantinos Kombos following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Mr Eli Cohen
I am truly delighted to welcome you and your delegation to Cyprus and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This is the first official incoming visit that I am hosting after the assumption of my duties as Foreign Affairs Minister. This attests to the importance we all attach to the strong partnership between our two countries.
Our talks today provided an excellent opportunity to establish personal rapport and to exchange views on pressing current affairs. Moreover, the overall aim is to discuss how to strengthen our strategic cooperation. A cooperation that is deep and wide and which has been reaffirmed today.
The range includes, but it is not limited to, energy, defence, business, emergency response, healthcare, and innovation. Furthermore, this strategic cooperation extends beyond the bilateral level, to the trilateral with Greece. We agreed on our commitment to expand this partnership and we have discussed concrete ways of doing so.
We also had the opportunity to go through our joint energy projects. We agreed that we should advance the opportunities and prospects of a reliable energy corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe. This must be seen in the light particularly of the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine and the need for energy diversification and increased interconnectivity. The projects of common interest that our countries cooperate in, such as the Eurasia interconnector, were discussed. They remain highly relevant in this respect.
During our meeting, we also had a chance to exchange views on practical ways to strengthen the formats of regional cooperation, starting from our Trilateral Cooperation with Greece and the geopolitical value of our 3+1 mechanism with the US. We will revert to these issues and the way forward tomorrow in our trilateral meeting with Minister Dendias.
We both acknowledged that our wider region is changing, as the unleashing dynamic of the normalization Accords and the Negev Forum showed. In a dramatically changing geopolitical environment, tangible cooperation is being built on a common regional outlook and shared opportunities. Cooperation to understand springing out of diplomacy and rules-based regional multilateralism, is the wise way forward.
We also had a very frank and comprehensive discussion on regional challenges that are at the forefront of our attention. I expressed my deepest condolences to the Minister for the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and our condemnation of such horrific acts of terror, as well as any action targeting innocent civilians. As a country that holds observer status in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, we also utterly condemn any, and all, manifestations of antisemitism however and wherever they may arise.
Especially ahead of the religious holidays of Passover, Ramadan and Easter, I relayed our concern about the increase of violence, and underscored the importance of de-escalation, and of safeguarding the historic status quo in the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, including in the Christian Orthodox places of worship.
In this context, I commended the recent efforts in ‘Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh, and the crucial role played by regional partners such as Egypt and Jordan, together with the US.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel is a critically important partner in the southern neighborhood of the EU, one with which we share common values. Cyprus is a strong advocate of the positive agenda of the EU - Israel partnership, as well as of sincere dialogue on key issues, on which EU and Israel do not necessarily see eye-to-eye.
To this end, I reaffirmed Cyprus’ readiness as a close friend and partner, to advocate in creating a political horizon that would allow the resumption of direct and meaningful negotiations with the Palestinian side, resulting in a viable two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters.This must fully ensure the security of the State of Israel. This is not, and cannot be negotiable.
I also had the chance to brief the Foreign Minister on the latest developments around the Cyprus Issue and Turkey’s revisionist approach that regretfully ran contrary to international law.
I expressed my appreciation for Israel’s principled support on the Cyprus issue and reiterated our long-standing position, which is that relations between sovereign states are not a zero-sum affair.
Our partnership is based on solid ground and not vulnerable to the influence of external factors of political expediency. It is our consistent viewpoint that, once Turkey lifts the impediments to solving the Cyprus Issue in line with the agreed framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, we can – and we will – develop good neighborly relations thus benefitting regional stability and security.
I wish to thank you for this productive meeting. I look forward in continuing our substantial exchanges and coordination in the future and to our trilateral meeting with Nicos tomorrow.
Once again, welcome to Cyprus!