Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the establishment of a joint coordination body between Greece and Cyprus, during their statements, on Monday, in Athens.
As the two leaders said, the new body, entitled as Supreme Council for Intergovernmental Cooperation, represents a new page of cooperation and coordination between Athens and Nicosia.
In his remarks, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that Athens supports the efforts by the new President of Cyprus for a more active European engagement on the Cyprus problem and underlined that the two countries have been on the same side for a long time.
Mitsotakis also noted that Christodoulides took office at a very difficult period of geopolitical instability and overt revisionism expressed by certain states. “It is necessary for Greece and Cyprus to pull together. Our joint efforts will start from the upcoming European Council,” the Greek Prime Minister said. Against this backdrop, he underlined Greece’s readiness to continue working for the common vision of a Cyprus settlement on the basis of UN resolutions and the bizonal bicommunal federation.
On his part, President Christodoulides underlined that his visit to Athens is more than symbolic, at a time when the two countries face common challenges both in the region and in their European family. “I briefed Mitsotakis on the need for more active EU involvement in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. We are well aware that the situation is not easy but we are strongly convinced that the current situation cannot be the solution to the problem,” Christodoulides said.
Earlier the two leaders had a one-to-one meeting followed by extended talks between the delegations of the two sides.
Mitsotakis said in his statements that they are launching “a new era of cooperation and coordination” adding that the new challenges of maintaining peace, security and stability in the neighbourhood and particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean region require vigilance and cooperation with all partners and allies.
He added that a first very positive expression of this new start is the establishment of a Supreme Council for Intergovernmental Cooperation between the two countries.
Mitsotakis noted that this is an organized procedure of intergovernmental dialogue that should have been probably set up long ago, and is being announced officially today.
He expressed the belief that during their first meeting they will be able to discuss many issues of common interest as Energy, shipping, environmental security and set out common goals and timetables with concrete milestones for making the two states’ cooperation even closer.
“We therefore continue this common course with Athens always being on Nicosia’s side and me by my friend Nikos,” Mitsotakis said, stressing that coordination between Greece and Cyprus is more necessary today than ever before.
He noted that their close cooperation begins next week during the forthcoming European Council, adding that he is ready to continue with him “for our big common vision to permanently solve the Cyprus question on the basis of the UN decisions.”
Mitsotakis said that during the next European Council they will discuss crucial issues concerning Greece and Cyprus, such as the economy, Europe’s long-term competitiveness, securing the common market and promoting green and digital transition.
As regards the migration issue he noted that “we will continue to support together our positions with a view to secure the interest of front line member states such as Greece and Cyprus.”
He noted that what is of primary importance in this effort is “to protect our borders, which are also the external borders of the EU” with respect to the international law and the human rights.
Referring to the relations between Greece and Turkey, Mitsotakis noted that after a long period of unacceptable provocations, a long period of offensive behaviour, we are experiencing today and after the deadly earthquakes that brought the peoples of the two countries closer a de-escalation and more positive behaviour.
“And we responded to this stance and we will always respond to whatever is aimed at reducing tension and dialogue,” the Greek Prime Minister stressed. Moreover he expressed hope that such an improvement will have a positive impact on the Cyprus problem.
He underlined that in the 21st century it is incompatible with international law to have occupation troops stationed in Cyprus, obsolete guarantee systems and third parties having intervention rights.
On the contrary it is time for the European acquis to spread throughout the island, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in which we all agree, he noted.
Moreover he stressed that Greece supports and will pursue the implementation of Christodoulides’ proposal for a more dynamic European involvement to efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
On his part, Christodoulides noted that his first official visit to Greece is not just symbolic but is of substantive importance as well, taking into consideration the common challenges for the two countries and their common objectives at the bilateral and regional level and also within the EU.
The President of the Republic said that during the discussion on the Cyprus issue, he informed Prime Minister Mitsotakis in detail about the need for a more active involvement of the EU, in an effort to break the deadlock and resume the peace talks.
He said that we are aware of the difficulties but at the same time we have the strong conviction that the current state of affairs cannot be the solution to the problem and Cyprus cannot remain divided and under occupation.
President Christodoulides also said that they exchanged views on the excellent bilateral relations, adding that there is always room for improvement. He explained that in this context they agreed to establish a body of intergovernmental cooperation which will provide for joint meetings of the Ministerial Councils in the presence of him and Premier Mitsotakis.
He described this decision as particularly important, “one that should have been made years ago”.
President Christodoulides also said that on the agenda of the talks were regional issues and developments in our neighborhood, adding that they focus on the appropriate dealing with the challenges as well as on the optimal utilization of the opportunities that exist.
He said that they also discussed the joint regional actions that demonstrate in practice the efforts of the two countries to be pillars of security and stability in the area.
On the agenda of the talks were also European issues and the upcoming European Council. Christodoulides referred to the fact that both belong to the large family of the European People’s Party and the importance of this for common goals.
He also assured that their cooperation will continue as before and will be very close, honest, direct and effective.
During their statements, both leaders referred to the tragic train crash in Tempi that claimed the lives of 57 people, among whom two young Cypriots, and left many others injured.
Diplomatic sources told the Cyprus News Agency that the main goal of the coordination body is optimizing cooperation and coordination between Greece and Cyprus and promoting their common aspirations within the EU.
The same sources noted that this is a very important step that will contribute to substantial progress in various sectors such as shipping and energy.
In the context of this body, meetings of the Council of Ministers will be held on a regular basis, in the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Prime Minister of Greece.
During their talks the two leaders exchanged views on issues of the European agenda and there was coordination for the upcoming European Council.
Sources say that President Christodoulides stressed that he wants a strong presence of Cyprus at the European level and underlined that his participation at the EPP group, along with Mitsotakis, provides the opportunity for further cooperation.
The talks also covered migration crisis, energy issues, trilateral agreements and cooperation.
Source: Cyprus News Agency