Cyprus continues to rely upon the EU and the European Parliament in its reunification efforts, says President Anastasiades (2)

Cyprus continues to rely upon the EU and the European Parliament in its efforts to reunify the country and end the unacceptable status quo, said the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades in his statements following his meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, at the Presidential Palace on Friday.

On her part, Metsola said that Europe stands with Cyprus and will never be whole while Cyprus remains split. Referring to natural gas discoveries in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the EP President said Cyprus can be a key strategic partner for the EU in diversifying its energy mix.

“In order to have conditions for the resumption of negotiations, Turkey should terminate its unilateral actions in violation of international law, which have been strongly condemned by the EU, either on the ground or in the sea”, President Anastasiades stressed.

Regarding the current state of play of the Cyprus problem, President Anastasiades said that regrettably there is still a stalemate, given both the rejection by the Turkish side for the appointment of an UN envoy and the insistence on a two-state solution, a position which has time and again been dismissed by the UN and the EU as it deviates from the established basis of reaching a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation and set out in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in the light of the EU principles and values.

President Anastasiades added that “we will continue to tirelessly work and assume initiatives to provide a way out of the current impasse. In this framework I outlined my proposal for the adoption of bold Confidence Building Measures which on the one hand address important concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community and on the other hand have the potential to be a game-changer in pursuit of a comprehensive settlement.”

“There can only be one Cyprus, a single, sovereign, European state, a bicommunal, bizonal federation in line with UN Security Council resolutions, a state where all inhabitants are EU citizens”, Metsola stressed in her statements, adding that the time is now to inject some new energy into these negotiations.

“What we need is to restore trust, and recent provocative actions, repeatedly condemned by the EU, will only jeopardize the efforts to resume direct talks. Famagusta should become an example of bi-communal cooperation, instead of a point of contention. A win-win is possible, and the European Parliament will be there to put all of our resources to your disposal”, she added, while also commending President Anastasiades’ efforts for the resumption of a constructive dialogue between parties involved.

On the issue of migration, President Anastasiades said that Cyprus has been the EU Member State with the highest percentage of first-time asylum applications in relation to its population for five consecutive years and the one not being benefited by substantial relocation measures so far.

At the same time, he said, the growing percentage of migrants compared to the local population causes serious concern since the proportion of applicants and beneficiaries of international protection in Cyprus corresponds to over 5% of the country’s population.

“This instrumentalisation of migration which is guided by Turkey and its non-compliance with the 2016 declaration, constitutes a conscious effort to destabilize Cyprus and consequently the EU. Therefore, we are of the strong view that the EU should develop a toolbox for the swift and effective response in order to enhance Member States resilience to this hybrid threat”, he stressed.

As regards energy, President Anastasiades reiterated Cyprus’ support for the REPowerEU initiative, as well as the external energy strategy, since it is expected to strengthen the energy autonomy of the EU, help to deal with electricity prices and give impetus to the energy transition, while adding that member state specificities need to be taken into account as an important factor, in the case of Cyprus due to its isolated energy system.

Referring also to the need to push for Europe’s energy independence in this rapidly changing geopolitical environment, the President stressed that the Eastern Mediterranean can provide a reliable alternative energy corridor and Cyprus stands ready to make its own contribution.

Commenting on the increasing cost of living and inflation as a result of price hikes on energy and food at previously unheard levels, Metsola said that “we can take actions together to limit the impact, whether it is capping of bills, fixing our pricing systems or de-coupling the price of electricity from gas, these are things that we can do now, even temporarily, to offset the immediate pressures while we implement long term strategies. This is what people expect from us and that is what we must deliver. But we can only do this if we do it together.”

Concerning the latest developments regarding the continuous assault of Russia on Ukraine, President Anastasiades said that Cypriots fully understand the tragedy that the Ukrainian people are facing, as they have also been victims of the illegal Turkish invasion, which resulted in the division of the island and, since 1974, the ongoing military occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic and the forcible displacement of a third of its population from their homes.

“Our position has always been resolute and unanimous within the EU. The sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of all States, including of course Ukraine and Cyprus, should be respected”, he stressed, adding that unfortunately, joint efforts are hampered by partner countries, which provide Russia with “sanctions evading abilities.” “It is our firm belief that all countries aspiring to join our European family should fully respect our fundamental values and principles”, he added.

Replying to a question on when will the EU be taking sanctions against Turkey, as it has taken against Russia, given its violations of international law in Cyprus, with one recent example being that of Famagusta, the President of the European Parliament said that “with regard to the sanctions we have been extremely clear that those countries, especially those countries that have been aspiring to come closer to the EU, not only need to stand by the sanctions adopted against Russian in the context of the illegal invasion of Ukraine but also enforce them and not allow for their abuse, not allow for loopholes. That can cause disruption to the effectiveness of those sanctions.”

“The district of Varosha, and the city of Famagusta is a symbol for the Cyprus issue, it represents the prospects of a peaceful solution. The latest actions taken at the coastal area jeopardise the efforts to resume direct talks for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem”, she underlined.

Metsola added that she represents the European Parliament, an institution that has repeatedly condemned the fact that Turkey continues to violate the UN Security Council resolutions on Famagusta and to this end she supports a prompt return of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants. “We will continue to insist on this position and will also continue to insist that any country that would use the most vulnerable people on the planet for perceiving geopolitical games is something that is not acceptable for the EU and something that is not acceptable anywhere in Europe.”

Asked if the EU examines the issue of exploitation of natural gas from Cyprus given also the recent discoveries in its EEZ, Metsola said that “the 24th of February sounded an alarm bell that we should have heard earlier and what we know now and we should have acted earlier on is that Putin did not stop in 2008, and did not stop in 2015 and he will definitely not stop now.”

“At the same time, we have been dependent, some countries more than others, on a cheap gas supply which we took for granted. We had the opportunity to create a proper Energy Union, we had the opportunity to make EU states more interdependent, we had the opportunity to identify ways to become energy independent by depending on our friends rather than on our foes”, she continued, adding that the recent discoveries also show that Cyprus can be not only independent in this regard but also a key strategic partner and key strategic ally for the EU in diversifying its energy mix.

“That is something that we need to continue looking at, that is something that we need to continue investing in and that is also allowing us to look at different partners, third countries, that we can continue to cooperate within the light of the ongoing aggression, but also in the future because our strategic autonomy means also that we need to look at it from an energy perspective”, she added.

The President of the European Parliament also referred to the plan of the EU to continue to invest in renewable energy. “Our ambitions should not be scaled back. We should continue to look on how we can diversify and uncouple ourselves, especially in the current context of the war, from fossil fuels”, she said, adding that in this case some countries are already quite advanced and some countries need to do more.

“In this regard we as the European Parliament are calling also for a more effective negotiation of our legislation on renewable energy, on the competitive advantage that we could have economically in our member states, in order to invest and not lose that advantage with regard to other countries”, she concluded.

It is noted that both the President of the Republic and the President of the European Parliament expressed their condolences to the British royal family and the British people on the death of Queen Elizabeth on Thursday, September 8.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.

Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.

The Turkish Cypriot leadership announced in July 2021 a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha. A few months earlier, on October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6. The UN Security Council called for the reversal of this course of action, while the UN Secretary General, in his latest report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, reiterated his concern over developments in the fenced-off area, noting that the position of the UN on Varosha remains unchanged. The EU also expressed grave concern.

Source: Cyprus News Agency