FM Christodoulides sends message on Cyprus problem to Cavusoglu through the Swiss FM

Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, said on Tuesday that he asked his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis to convey the message to Turkey that we are ready to engage in dialogue, provided that illegal activities within the EEZ of Cyprus will stop and that it is only through dialogue that a solution can be reached, on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions and the principles upon which the European Union is founded.

Christodoulides and Cassis held talks in the framework of a working visit which the latter paid to Cyprus before visiting Greece and Turkey, where he will meet with the two countries Foreign Ministers and discuss with them, inter alia, about the Cyprus problem and Turkish activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Cassis stressed in his statements, that he will speak with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu “to try to convince him to find the best way possible in order to restart the talks on Cyprus. He also noted that he will discuss with his Greek and Turkish counterparts about the developments in Cyprus EEZ.

Cassis went on to say that Switzerland was honoured to host five rounds of the talks on Cyprus in 2016 and 2017 in Mont Pelerin, Geneva and Crans-Montana. We were not far away from a solution but we didn’t reach a solution. So it is very important for Switzerland to reiterate our offer to support this process with our good offices he said, noting the importance of the resumption of the talks and of trying to create the appropriate preconditions towards this end.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Turkey issued in May a navigational telex, announcing its intention to start drilling off Cyprus until September 3. Since May 4, the Turkish drill ship Fatih is in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.

A second Turkish drill ship, Yavuz, arrived off the island’s northeastern coast on Monday. Turkey has issued NAVTEX 765/19, according to which Yavuz will drill until September 30th with the help of three supporting vessels.

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has strongly condemned Turkey’s new attempt to illegally conduct drilling operations in the east of Cyprus, close to the Karpasia peninsula, within the Territorial Sea of the Republic.

FM Christodoulides noted in his statements with Cassis after their talks that I made it clear � and I think it is particularly important as Ignazio will be visiting Ankara in the coming days � that in order for negotiations to resume Turkey must first cease its illegal and provocative activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, which are in flagrant breach of International and European Law and the sovereign rights of the Republic.

Unfortunately, the signs are not positive in this respect, as Turkey has chosen instead to escalate its provocations further in the last few days by proceeding with a new, illegal drilling operation within the Territorial Sea of the Republic, Christodoulides added.

He noted that he briefed his Swiss counterpart on the latest developments with regard to the Cyprus problem. “I shared with him our strong commitment to the resumption of negotiations at the earliest � from the point where they were suspended exactly two years ago in Crans-Montana � with the aim of reaching a settlement on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, in line with International and EU Law, that will reunite Cyprus ensuring that it remains a functional, effective EU member state,” he said.

He noted that they had the opportunity to hold an in depth exchange of views on a wide range of issues, bilateral affairs, European, regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

I am pleased to note that we have reaffirmed during our meeting that we share common values and aspirations in a large number of fields, such as human rights, international and International humanitarian law, climate change, as well as a strong commitment to multilateralism, he added.

With regard to the two countries’ bilateral relations, he said that, as always, there is room for further improvement and “we therefore examined concrete ways in which we could strengthen our cooperation in a manner that is mutually beneficial.”

I conveyed to Ignazio our deep appreciation for Switzerland’s invaluable financial contributions towards important projects in Cyprus, in areas which include inter alia education, civil society, research and innovation, waste management and protection of cultural heritage, he noted, adding that he expressed Cyprus’ special appreciation for Switzerland’s generous financial contributions over the years in support of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus.

Moreover, Christodoulides said that they exchanged views on the future of relations between the EU and Switzerland, as well as on a number of regional and international issues which are of common concern, such as the conflict in Syria, its grave humanitarian consequences and its impact on the broader region. We agreed that it is imperative to have a nationwide ceasefire in order to establish unhindered humanitarian access throughout the country. On the peace process, we reiterated our support to the UN-led Geneva process, he noted.

On his part Cassis referred to his visit on Monday to the UN-protected buffer zone in Nicosia and his meeting with the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar, as well as to his visit to the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus anthropological lab, underlining the importance of the Committee’s work.

Referring to the bilateral relations between Cyprus and Switzerland he described them as excellent, noting that there is always room for improvement at the economic level.

Cassis also said, inter alia, that the relations with the EU, whose Cyprus is a member state, are a very important topic for Switzerland. We have been negotiating for five years a framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU, he noted, adding that there are still three open points that require further discussion.

He expressed gratitude for Cyprus’ support, stressing that we want to have stable, predictable and peaceful relations with all EU members since we are the heart of the continent.

The Swiss official also noted that his country is ready to support a future candidacy of Cyprus for the UN Security Council, and thanked Cyprus for supporting Switzerland’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council in 2023-2024.

He also said that he invited Christodoulides to pay a visit to Switzerland.

Source: Cyprus News Agency