France is ready to support every step for a reunited Cyprus, says French diplomat

France is ready to support any step in the direction of a re-united Cyprus, said the First Counsellor of the Embassy Virginie Corteval during the celebration of the Bastille Day at the French Ambassador’s residence in Nicosia on Thursday.

Speaking on behalf of the French Ambassador to Cyprus, Salina Grenet-Catalano, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to COVID-19, Corteval said that despite the celebrations this is hardly a happy day

War has returned to the heart of the European soil with Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine, she said, with hope stemming from the incredible resilience and resistance of the people of Ukraine, the united and strong reaction of the European Union and its partners and the decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status into the Union. “We will remain at Ukraine’s sides until peace returns to our continent”, she stressed.

Corteval said that the Ukrainian drama shows there is no time to waste to look for a lasting and viable peace in Cyprus, since frozen conflicts remain wounds to be healed.

“The status quo in Cyprus is hardly a status quo. The situation is changing, and not necessarily for the better: from the questioning of international norms in Varosha to the looming threats in the Cypriot Economic Exclusive Zone, from the difficult economic conditions and restricted rights Turkish Cypriots are experiencing to the high levels of migrations taking place through the Green line”, she continued, adding that no goal is unreachable provided there is will and trust and France is ready to support any step in that direction, such as confidence building measures.

“Division is not an option and we remain convinced that a re-united, federal and European Cyprus, that is to say a solution within the UN parameters, is still achievable. We are appreciative of the United Nations’ tireless efforts in this regard”, she underlined.

The French diplomat also referred to the French Presidency of the Council whose attention was eventually mostly dedicated to the war in Ukraine.

“Our initial goals remain 100% valid”, she said, adding that the French presidency even had to accelerate its efforts towards more autonomy, especially as far as energy is concerned, while also referring to a number of successes, such as the “Strategic compass” to better face security challenges, the ambitious “Fit for 55” climate package, key initiatives to increase the protection of biodiversity through the Once Ocean Summit which took place in Brest, the introduction of a minimum representation of women in company boards, and the creation, everywhere in Europe, of a minimum wage, the implementation of which in Cyprus “was a project dear to the late minister Zeta Emilianidou to whom I would like to pay homage once again”.

Corteval said that the past year has also been very important for the deepening of the bilateral relationship between Cyprus and France, citing the field of defence and security and the recent decision of Cyprus to purchase six state-of- the-art helicopters from Airbus, hence contributing to the reinforcement of European Defence, and thanking the Republic of Cyprus for welcoming French ships in its ports.

She concluded that this bilateral relationship also expanded in the economic sector thanks to new contracts signed recently in the field of water treatment and sanitation or in the food retail market, more direct flights have also brought French tourists to Cyprus and Cypriots to France, while significant progress has been made in the education sector with the development of the French-Cypriot school in Nicosia and the opening, in September, of a branch in Limassol, with the increasing number of Cypriots learning French in Cypriot schools and with an increased number of Cypriot students choosing French universities for their studies.