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Statements of Foreign Minister Lambrinidis and his Cypriot counterpart, Mr. Kyprianou
Mr. Kyprianou: First of all, I want to express my pleasure and satisfaction at having the opportunity today to meet so soon with my friend and colleague the Foreign Minister of Greece, who may have taken up his duties only yesterday, but with whom we have worked together in the past in various capacities.
We particularly appreciate the speed with which he came to Cyprus, giving us the opportunity to exchange views on a number of issues, including the Cyprus issue and all the issues facing the EU – the Council of Foreign Minister, which will be convening on Monday, in Luxembourg – and regional issues. Cyprus and Greece are active in the world, in the Middle East, in a much more coordinated manner and as regards what is happening in our region, which is of particular interest to both countries.
I would like once again to express the gratitude of Cyprus, of the Cypriot people and the Cypriot government, for the ongoing support of Greece and the Greek government in our efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, and I would of course like to express our gratitude for the coordination and support on the initiatives Cyprus takes internationally and that are also of particular importance in our national struggle and the support of our state entity, as well as the establishment of Cyprus on the international stage.
We will of course continue these meetings. This was an initial meeting upon my colleague’s taking up his duties. We will meet in Luxembourg on Monday, and we will talk some more. We agreed to keep in ongoing contact.
The Geneva meeting is coming up soon, and this will be of critical importance in the further course of the meetings. We will of course be in constant contact regarding the course of the talks up until that day, as well as immediately afterwards, when we will need to handle the results of that meeting. Once again I welcome you here today, my friend Stavros, and we look forward to ongoing contact and coordination.
Mr. Lambrinidis: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, my friend Markos. My warm thanks. Dear friends, it is with a deep sense of responsibility and deep sentiment that I am in Cyprus today. This is my first trip since taking up my duties.
I am not here for symbolic reasons alone: to show to the whole world that Greece and Cyprus, obviously, are struggling in common to resolve the Cyprus issue, in complete coordination and ongoing, longstanding and substantial cooperation. This much should be clear. But I also wanted to do two things that Mr. Kyprianos mentioned.
First of all, I wanted to coordinate and be brought up to speed, personally, on the current phase of the negotiations, which started in 2008 and are continuing thanks to President Christofias and his government. These are extremely sensitive negotiations. I want to be briefed on the prospects and difficulties we have before us.
These are matters that we have been discussing from the very outset, and that is how we have managed, to a great extent, to have not just a unified stance, but also success in the climate created with regard to the effort towards the resolution and the sincerity of this effort on the part of the government of Cyprus.
Now, it is obvious that we are always struggling toward finding a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution on the Cyprus problem, based on the resolutions of the UN Security Council and with respect for the fact of the Republic of Cyprus’s participation in the EU as a full and equal member.
This is obvious, but it needs to be said, my friend Markos, because Ministers change and there is a fear that policy, too, changes. This is not the case, at least in our collaboration. Cyprus and the Cyprus issue are pre-eminent priorities for us, and that is why our policy does not change.
My goal is for this to become even stronger. Before I became Foreign Minister, as some of you will know, I was Vice President of the European Parliament and head of the Pasok Parliamentary Group at the European Parliament.
The work I have done, my meetings with Markos Kyprianou, with President Demetris Christofias, with politicians from all the Cypriot parties, to promote the interests of Cyprus and the interests of Europe in this effort, as well as – clearly, if there is a successful solution – the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, the interests of the region – these efforts are very well known and familiar to me.
Dear friends, I would like to close – as we also discussed these matters with President Christofias – by assuring you that the efforts being made by Greece today, under the government of George Papandreou and with the resolve of that government, will result in the resolution of all the economic issues that right now appear to some to be catastrophic.
It’s not an easy course. For about a year and a half now, everyone has been betting that the country will collapse, and the people betting on this have lost a lot and will continue to lose. Greece is a country that is determined to take all the necessary measures to emerge from this crisis. And it will emerge! At the same time, I want to assure you that under these conditions, the prestige and credibility of Greek foreign policy – far from being reduced – are being enhanced and increased.
As your Minister so rightly said, Greece has for some years now put particular emphasis on developing policy and strengthening relations with all of the Arab world, with Israel and all the countries of the region. This is a strategic move of decisive importance for our countries. We are dynamic countries with self-confidence, and we can change things our region and, thus, for ourselves as well.
My warm thanks fro your hospitality and this meeting. We will have many more meetings, but for me this was the first, and – sentimentally and politically – perhaps the most important.
Thank you Markos.