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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statement following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides (Nicosia, 30 September 2020)

Thursday, 01 October 2020

It is always a particular pleasure to visit our sister nation Cyprus and converse with my dear friend and colleague, Nikos Christodoulides.

Today holds another reason to be joyful, as tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of Cyprus’ independence.

I therefore had the opportunity to express my fondest wishes, as well as those of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, for the freedom and prosperity of Cypriot Hellenism and all Cypriot people.

I must assure you that, as you are well aware, the Cyprus issue was and will remain a top priority for Greek foreign policy.

We continue to support the Republic of Cyprus.

We are working towards an end to the Turkish occupation and the achievement of a comprehensive, agreed and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, a solution based on the Resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Ε.U. acquis.

Today's meeting with Nikos was part of the continuous coordination between Greece and Cyprus at all levels, particularly in view of tomorrow’s highly important European Council meeting, which will be called upon to examine the entire array of EU-Turkish relations — and to do so given the obligation of solidarity to EU Member States, particularly when their sovereignty and sovereign rights are being violated by third countries.

This is indeed a violation of European sovereignty and European sovereign rights.

Unfortunately, Turkey's illegal activities in the broader region are ongoing and, in fact, escalating and expanding: from Caucasus to Libya, the Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Iraq.

Greece has acknowledged that the withdrawal of the Oruc Reis was a first step towards de-escalation.

We hope that this step will pave the way for exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey, aiming at the delimitation of an Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

Greece has repeatedly stressed that it will always be open to dialogue, but in the context of International Law and the Law of the Sea.

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether this first step will be followed up on and whether the Turkish side will prove consistent -because, as you here in Cyprus are well aware, Turkey is the violator par excellence of International Law in our region.

Furthermore, everyone is aware that the illegal actions of Turkish vessels in the maritime zones of Cyprus remain ongoing.

Greece remains a firm supporter of Cyprus in its request for the addition of further natural persons and entities — those involved in Turkey's ongoing illegal activities in the Cypriot EEZ — to the European list of sanctions.

This is, after all, the European framework agreed upon.

At the same time, it is necessary to maintain the prospect of financial sanctions against Turkey if it continues its illegal activities.

Greece has requested a list of measures so that Turkey stands aware that there will be consequences if it continues its illegal activities.

Of course, we remain hopeful that it will not prove necessary for these measures to be enforced.

Nikos and I also discussed the escalating tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Greece has expressed its readiness to contribute to the immediate cessation of hostilities, which I had the opportunity to relay to our Armenian colleague, with whom Nikos and I are also working in the context of the trilateral cooperation scheme.

I also reiterated that we deplore any third-party interference that stokes tensions, and that Turkey ought to abstain from actions and statements in that direction.

Peaceful resolution of disputes in the context of international law is the only path to regional security and stability.

Finally, I had the opportunity to brief Nikos in detail on the visit to Greece by our Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah, whom you are expecting tomorrow here in Cyprus, as well as the visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The US Secretary of State's second visit to Greece within a year — and, in fact, a few days after his visit to Cyprus — is an important event; this was my sixth meeting with him, second in number only to my meetings with Nikos, I believe.

These visits reaffirm the role played by Greece and Cyprus as pillars of stability in our sensitive region. Greece and Cyprus are working methodically with Israel and the US to promote security and prosperity in the region, in the context of the 3+1 scheme.

Our coordination - that is, between Greece and Cyprus- is a potent weapon and a very good omen in view of tomorrow’s European Council meeting.

We, in turn, will make every effort for the achievement of our common goals.

Dear Nikos, congratulations on tomorrow’s anniversary. Once again, my warm thanks for the reception and your hospitality.

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