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Statements of Foreign Minister Kotzias and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, at the joint press conference following their meeting (Nicosia, 26 October 2015)
I. KASOULIDES: It is always a great pleasure to welcome the Foreign Minister of Greece, Nikos Kotzias, to Cyprus. Within the framework of our meeting, we had expanded consultations between our delegations, during which we reaffirmed our quintessentially privileged and brotherly relations. Also reaffirmed was the longstanding close and mutual cooperation between the Foreign Ministries of Cyprus and Greece on the promotion of our national issues.
The meeting gave us the opportunity to consult and coordinate on issues of mutual interest – bilateral, regional and international issues – with the aim of optimizing management of these issues. Views were exchanged on the crisis in Turkey, with the upcoming elections in the country. And of course we also discussed the issue of Turkey’s accession negotiations, on which we found there to be a coincidence of views.
Developments in our regions were naturally discussed, and especially those in Israel and Palestine, in Syria and Egypt. And of course we discussed the migration issue, a matter of the utmost importance to Greece and Cyprus, as well as to Europe as a whole.
I briefed Mr. Kotzias on the latest developments on energy issues, in view of the discovery of the Zohr deposit as well, and at the same time we assessed the progress that has been made in the context of our trilateral cooperation with Egypt, as well as the need to further promote our trilateral cooperation with Israel.
I also had the opportunity to be briefed on Mr. Kotzias’ initiatives with regard to the FYROM name issue and the recent Memorandum of Understanding adopted on a Greek initiative.
N. KOTZIAS: Each time I visit Cyprus, I don’t know whether I should say I’m coming or returning here. Because Cyprus is a part of my youth and my heart. And today it was very moving to visit the school of the Makedonitissa, a beautiful school, a wonderful celebration of the “No” of 28 October 1940. It is a particular pleasure for me to be with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, with whom I am working together not just on narrow Greece-Cyprus issues, but also on issues concerning international and European developments, and his opinion and knowledge are always a support for my own thoughts.
The Minister and I discussed in detail the migration issues, which find Greece in the eye of the storm, as a gateway to the EU. We talked about energy issues – both Cyprus’ energy issues and prospects, such as the energy pipelines and LNG terminals, which are planned to pass through or be built in Greece.
We had an in-depth discussion of the trilateral configurations we have with Egypt and with Israel, and the thoughts we have of offering such trilateral collaboration with additional states, like Jordan. You see, this model of cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean has won supporters – people and states, that is – that are interested in participating.
Of course, the main subject of our talks was the Cyprus issue. The Cyprus issue as an issue of occupation, as an issue of the violation of international rules and international law, as an issue of the unification of the island and of functionally and institutionally safeguarded coexistence in a federal, bizonal, bicommunal republic of Cyprus, where the Turkish Cypriots will have all the goods and the maximum possible rights, and the Greek Cypriots, along with the three minorities here in Cyprus, will feel secure in a stable Republic of Cyprus. And for this to happen, of course the occupation forces must be withdrawn, and my views on the guarantees are well known.
In the course of our discussion of the Cyprus issue, we also talked about the international players. We talked about and have repeatedly talked with Mr. Eide, with the European side, with the American side and with all of the member states of the UN Security Council, and I can say that the general climate is positive with regard to the fundamental issues the Republic of Cyprus is facing – and from the standpoint it sees them.
I would also like to say that Mr. Kasoulides and I talked about the major current issues of the region, and I briefed him on the initiatives regarding our neighbours in the Balkans.
I think that my heart is fuller every time I leave Cyprus; my mind is more alert and optimistic. Cautious and realistic optimism, but it is greater. And I have the sense that this is happening on this trip, as well, on which we are discussing the foreign policy issues themselves. I would like, once again, to thank Mr. Kasoulides for the hospitality, the warmth, the embrace that opens every time a Greek delegation comes to Cyprus. And so I will close with what I said at the outset: I don’t know whether I am coming as a visitor or returning to a part of my youth and soul in the Republic of Cyprus. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: [Question on the migration issue]
N. KOTZIAS: I will say only one thing here. We cannot have third countries like Greece paying for the choices made by others. We neither wanted nor contributed to nor sought a war in Libya or in Syria. I think it is unfair for countries that did not contribute to causing the migration flows to be the ones mainly paying the cost. I also want to say that we cannot but help with the UN camps in Jordan and Lebanon – if they aren’t getting the material and economic support they need, and we are seeing the new phenomenon, with 300,000 people moving right now from those camps in the direction of Greece. Instead of debating how much money it will spend within its own territory, the EU should already have made sure – or at least make sure now, at this late date – that there is funding that ensures decent infrastructure, infrastructure for work and education, for the migrants within the Arab world; that is, in Jordan and Libya.
That is, we need to be very careful not to allow the destabilization of states like Egypt, behind which is Sudan, in the throes of civil war, and the failing state of Somalia. Consequently, a number of measures need to be taken in the region to avert the perpetuation of a migration problem that is of unmanageable dimensions. Areas currently destabilized may continue to be so next year, or new destabilized zones might arise, and no one can foresee, today, the size of the problem, and it is prudent to take timely measures to keep the problem from growing any further.