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FM says more European cohesion needed to face challenges, Brexit

February 9, 2019 at 12:22pm

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday that the solution to the many challenges the EU faces is not less Europe but more Europe, a stronger and more effective Europe with a more robust footing in international relations, closer to its citizens.

To this end, he stressed, Cyprus will continue to play a role and remains committed towards maintaining and further developing the traditionally excellent relations with its neighbors and will continue deepening its ties in the region and within the European Union, creating synergies that yield specific results that are beneficial to everyone.

Addressing a conference at Alexander College, in Larnaka, organized in collaboration with the Promitheas Research Institute, the Minister said that the theme of his intervention, “The EU and the Role of Cyprus: Geopolitics, Transformations and Challenges”, is more relevant than ever, not least due to the challenges, but also opportunities, faced both by the European Union, and by the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Referring to Brexit, he said that Cyprus throughout the negotiations, maintained a constructive stance, stressing that what is of crucial importance is to preserve a united front between the EU27, and safeguard the EU’s cohesion.

“I still believe that the EU can come out of this unprecedented crisis stronger, if we maintain this united front, and if we take this opportunity to address chronic deficiencies in the way the Brussels system works, and if we come closer to European citizens and address more effectively their concerns” he told the audience.

He also referred to the migration crisis, saying that Cyprus is under serious migratory pressure, both due to its geographical position and the continuous illegal military Turkish occupation of part of its territory. He stressed that what is needed is solidarity, burden sharing, while the  EU should engage more actively in addressing the root causes of the migration crisis, as well as of  phenomena such as the rise of violent extremism.

“In these unchartered waters, Cyprus has embarked on a journey to fully utilize its geographical position, as well as its status as an EU member. The driving force behind this journey is to amplify its role as a geostrategic bridge between the region and Europe, and also to make the case for Europe increasing its engagement and positive footprint in the region as part of effectively addressing its challenges” he went on to say.

Noting that while the solution of the Cyprus problem will always remain the number one priority of the Cypriot Government, he pointed out that “over the last six years we have embarked on a different strategy that we also believe serves our efforts on the Cyprus problem. We have taken concrete steps in moving beyond a monothematic foreign policy, projecting into a diverse, poly-thematic one, utilizing Cyprus’s unique characteristics, promoting a vision for our region that resonates well beyond the boundaries of the Eastern Mediterranean”.

He said that Cyprus` actions are underpinned by a long term vision for the region, which is important also for Europe.

“At a time of shifting of powers in the region, we see significant added value in increasing EU involvement in the region. We believe our vision for the Eastern Mediterranean is relevant because the region is highly relevant. We keep making the case at every opportunity in Brussels that unless Europe turns its attention to this region, it cannot effectively come out of the challenging juncture it is in currently”.

The Foreign Minister talked about Cyprus` foreign policy and the trilateral cooperation mechanisms Cyprus and Greece have established with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, saying that the fact that these fora have attracted the interest of other countries is recognition of their added value and the potential they have in reshaping the region.

“France and the United States have also expressed its desire to participate in the trilateral formations. Moreover, the decision taken to establish a permanent secretariat for these regional fora in Nicosia is stepping stone in the long term vision we have for the region”, he said.

Christodoulides added that the second pillar of Cyprus` foreign policy, is a more active involvement of Cyprus within the EU, noting for example that Cyprus is seen as a credible, trustworthy, reliable channel of communication between the EU and countries in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, and this is being increasingly recognized.

He also talked about the 5th Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Southern European Union Countries that took place in Nicosia on the 29th of January 2019 with the participation of the Heads of State or Government of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. He pointed out that the “Nicosia Declaration”, adopted by the leaders ” is a collective input to the dialogue taking place in Brussels on a number of important topics and will serve as their blueprint for the months to come”.

(Cyprus News Agency)