“The best guarantee for Cyprus and its people is the EU itself” President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday.
Addressing a luncheon, in Nicosia, hosted by the Estonian Ambassador in Cyprus on the occasion of the Estonian Presidency of the EU, President Anastasiades told Ambassadors from the EU member states that “we are strongly committed to reach a functional and viable comprehensive settlement, fully in line with European and international law that reunites Cyprus, free of any third country dependencies”
He added that it is in the interests of Cyprus, of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as well as of the European Union, to have a reunified Cyprus as “a modern state, a normal state, fully in line with EU law, values and principles” that will offer the prospect of prosperity and peaceful co-existence for all its citizens.
The President also revealed that he put forward a proposal to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to engage in shuttle diplomacy, in order for the UN chief to evaluate whether the necessary conditions are in place to reconvene a new Conference on Cyprus. The proposal was made in New York last September, at a meeting in the framework of the UN General Assembly.
Despite the disappointment, “it is our determination to continue the process at the point it was interrupted”, the President underlined, adding that this has also been conveyed to the Secretary General.
“The end of the conference is not the end of the process for us” he noted.
He said, however, that in order to avoid a repetition of the shortcomings of the past, prior to convening a new Conference on Cyprus there should be thorough preparation, enabling parties to be in a position to submit their positions in writing – even “subject to” – so as to ensure that the proceedings will lead to a positive outcome.
“Therefore, the suggestion I put forward to the UN Secretary-General is the engagement in shuttle diplomacy, either by the UN or through renowned personalities, or even third countries which are generally acceptable by all parties as impartial, such as collectively the members of the Security Council” he said.
According to the President, this will allow the UN Secretary-General to ascertain and assess the positions and intentions of all parties involved and evaluate if the necessary conditions are in place in order to reconvene the Conference.
Referring to the latest attempt for a settlement, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, last July, the President said that the aim of turning Cyprus into a truly independent, normal and sovereign federal state was unfortunately not shared by Turkey.
Speaking about Nicosia’s foreign policy, the President referred to the trilateral cooperation mechanisms that were developed in the past few years, including Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
The President also referred to the visit of Egyptian President Sisi, next Monday, to be followed by a trilateral meeting, in the presence of Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, on Tuesday.
“Our aim is to further improve and strengthen our bilateral relationship with the countries of the Middle East, as well as the partnership between EU and our immediate region, to the benefit of our peoples” he said.
Moreover, the President mentioned his telephone conversation with Lebanese Prime Minister (who submitted his resignation) Saad Hariri , a couple of days ago, to whom he “reiterated that Cyprus, as a true friend of Lebanon, will continue to support the country’s efforts to confront the challenges is faced with”. He added that “we are committed to supporting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Lebanon”.
President Anastasiades also referred to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), noting that this was “an historic step towards deeper integration in the defence field”.
He added that Cyprus, as one of the 23 member states that signed the Joint Notification “has demonstrated that it is willing and able to contribute concretely to this quest for security by forming part of the core group of European defence”.
On Brexit, President Anastasiades expressed hope that sufficient progress will be achieved on current talks until December, in order to proceed to the next phase and start building the future relationship with the UK.
“We all recognize that the UK is an important partner and so it should remain” the President said, adding that Cyprus supports “a close and as strong as possible future relationship, with multi-level cooperation”.
Furthermore, the President referred to the Summit for fair jobs and growth, that is taking place in Gotheburg, Sweden, which he said he was not able to attend due to flight connection problems.
“I am very pleased that President Juncker, President Tajani and Prime Minister Ratas will sign the European Pillar of Social Rights in a ceremony at the Gothenburg”, the President said and expressed his strong conviction that Estonia will conclude its Presidency with the same dynamism.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest round of UN-backed negotiations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, ended inconclusively in July 2017.