The solidarity shown by Cyprus towards Turkey after the devastating earthquakes that hit the country in February ‘is proof that we can build trust’, President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said on Wednesday, before her meeting with Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides, in Brussels. Metsola reiterated her position that ‘Europe will never be complete as long as Cyprus remains divided’, while also making reference to the challenges faced by Cyprus when it comes to handling migration, and underlining the importance of the ongoing effort to reform the EU’s approach. Christodoulides thanked Metsola for her interest for Cyprus, and added that they would discuss the role that the EU can play towards a solution, as well as the situation in Ukraine, stressing that Cyprus, is on the right side of history. Metsola and Christodoulides met for about an hour with their teams, before having a tête-a-tete which lasted for about half an hour. In her comments welcoming Christodoulides, before the meeting, Metsola stressed that ‘Europe will never be complete as long as Cyprus remains divided and I want to emphasise on your first official visit to the European Parliament that the division of an EU member state is not only a Cypriot issue, but a European one’. ‘We will not turn our backs on Cyprus and our joint ambition to see the reunification of your island under the auspices of the UN peace plan’ she stressed. ‘Cyprus’s solidarity with Turkey after the devastating earthquakes last month, is proof that we can build trust and I very much look forward to your proposals to a new impetus to the resumption of negotiations between the two communities’ she added. The President of the European Parliament also noted that Cyprus is ‘our main gateway to the Middle East, to Asia, to Africa’ and that she was aware ‘of the challenges that Cypriots face in terms of migration and again, this isn’t a Cypriot issue’. ‘No member state should be left alone to cope with migration flows on its own and that is why we must press on with updating our own legal framework’ she added, pointing out that this is an approach ‘that is just and humane with those who are in need of protection, that is fair and firm with those who are not eligible and that is strong with those smugglers preying off the most vulnerable’. ‘Cyprus is the heart of Europe and I look forward to strengthening our bond in the future’ she said. In his opening statements, President Christodoulides said that he is looking forward to working with President Metsola and the European Parliament. ‘I know very well your sensitivities. I want to thank you for your recent participation in the photo exhibition regarding Famagusta. It is another indication of your strong interest for the solution of the Cyprus problem, which very correctly you mentioned is a European problem’ he said. Christodoulides said that this is his first visit to Brussels following his inauguration and that he expects to have discussions on issues of common concern, ‘including of course the Cyprus problem and how the European Union can help us to return back to the negotiating table’. He said that he believes that the European Union can play a catalytic role in order to bring the Turkish side back to the table and through negotiations, from the point they were stopped back in 2017 in Crans Montana, to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem. Other issues of common concern, he said, include migration, which is ‘a very important and serious issue in Cyprus and not only, an issue where we need European Union’s solidarity, we need to show in practice the burden sharing of all member states’. The other issue of common interest, he continued, is the situation is Ukraine, where he stressed that Cyprus ‘stands on the right side of history’ since ‘no violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country can be accepted’. He added that he is also aware that youth issues are also a subject of particular interest to the President of the European Parliament. Responding to a question on how she assesses the possibility of an enhanced role of the EU in the Cyprus Problem given today’s geopolitical context and the war in Ukraine, Metsola said that she is looking forward to hearing the President’s proposals ‘for a new impetus on the resumption of negotiations’. ‘We stand ready to support in all possible ways, we will put all our resources at your disposal’ she stressed, adding that ‘peace is our number one aim’.
Source: Cyprus News Agency