The division of an EU member state is a European question and we must respond to it together, Metsola told Cyprus Parliament

The forced division of an EU Member State, is not a Cyprus question, but a European question and we must respond to it together, the President of the European Parliament said addressing an extraordinary plenary session of Cyprus House of Representatives on Friday.

Metsola who is on an official visit in Cyprus said in her address that Europe must use its experience to bring people together, to ensure one Cyprus under the auspices of the UN plan for peace and in line with our shared European values.

“Let me be clear, the only way forward is for there to be a single sovereign, European, State. A bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in line with UN Security Council resolutions”, she said, adding that Europe will never be whole while Cyprus remains split.

Disruption of the status quo – as in Famagusta – seriously jeopardises efforts to restore confidence and for finding workable solutions, Metsola noted. “We must build trust. There can, and there must be a win-win outcome here, that creates trust between communities. Of this I am convinced – and all the resources of the European Parliament are at your disposal to make the steps towards progress, towards peace, towards reunification”.

She went on to say that the history of Cyprus reads as an example of resilience and that the sacrifices made by Cypriots, bring Cyprus on the path to growth, prosperity and sustainability, despite the difficult global winter coming. “The history of your people is indeed inspirational, but it is the future of this island nation that inspires more. And if Cypriots can teach the world anything, it is that the future is full of possibility”.

Regarding Ukraine, EP President said that Europe must keep supporting Ukraine, politically, with military aid, with logistic support and with hope and solidarity.

“The day Ukraine was granted EU candidate status was a day when Europe moved to give hope to a people under attack. We know what that means to people. We remember that day in 2004 when our countries finally joined and the impact this had on our societies”, she noted, adding that “It is time to move forward with Ukraine, with Moldova, with the Western Balkans – Georgia. It is time to move forward with our European project”.

She noted that EU can never be static and that is why the European Parliament wants a convention on the future of Europe.

Metsola also referred to the need to take decisions to deal with the challenges EU is facing today, since people are worried, due to inflation, causing spending power to plummet, electricity prices skyrocketing, food being less secure than it was six months ago. “Things we take for granted – driving cars, lighting our homes and running our industries, switching on our air conditioners and heaters will become more difficult”.

EP President also sent a message for “More Europe” as a solution to EU’s problems. As she said, more Europe is needed to address the energy crisis, by capping bills, fixing the pricing systems, or de-coupling the price of electricity from gas. She emphasized that Cyprus’ gas resources will play an important and strategic role in Europe’s energy solution.

She added that more Europe is also needed in order to face the security challenges, in order to improve the joint defence infrastructure, dealing with Russia or the increased tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Regarding migration, Metsola said that more Europe is necessary for a fair and humane comprehensive way forward on those seeking protection, firm with those who are not eligible and strong with those who traffickers who exploit some of the most vulnerable. “Cyprus will not be left alone to deal with any influxes”, she said.

More Europe is also what the EP President suggests to tackle climate change, to ensure democracy, rule of law, equality and liberty, to create a real health union, to create jobs, safeguard rights and for gender equality.

Finally, she said that “more Europe” means standing up for Europe, resisting the temptation to blame “Brussels” and to fight back against populism and misinformation. “We have to explain the benefits of Europe”, she said.

Welcoming her to the House of Representatives, House Presindet, Annita Demetriou, noted that Metsola is the youngest woman to be elected to this position and this gives a message of optimism for all women and young people for active participation.

“The cooperation of the European institutions, and in particular of the European Parliament, with the national parliaments is more important than ever, as the European Union is facing complex and dangerous security challenges, which require strong political will and solidarity”, Demetriou noted.

Referring to the EU’s stance on Ukraine, the President of the House said that “we stand firmly on the side of the Ukrainian people, who are fighting not only for the defence of their country, but for the defence of European principles and values”, adding that the Cypriot people fully understand the pain of the Ukrainian people, “since our own wounds are still fresh, as a result of Turkey’s flagrant violation of the same principles”.

This is why Cyprus, she said, despite the significant cost, fully aligned with the decisions of the European Union to impose restrictive measures against Russia. She emphasized, however, that at the same time “it is outrageous that Turkey refuses to implement collective decisions, undermining the sanctions and reaping significant benefits at the expense of the Union and Cyprus, while simultaneously claiming and being recognized as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine”.

She called for even stronger EU diplomatic mobilization to end the war and restore international law and European principles and values in Ukraine, Europe and the whole world.

Furthermore, Demetriou set the question why Cyprus does not receive the same support from the international community and why Turkey is additionally allowed to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, while flagrantly violating international law, human rights and the rule of law.

As she said, the similarities between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus are obvious and should be treated in the same way by European partners and the international community. “Revisionism and expansionism cannot be treated differently. Therefore, we expect the same sensitivity and determination in relation to Cyprus and we are sure that we can count on your support”, she said.

Demetriou pointed out that forty-eight years of occupation are too many. “The unacceptable claims of the Turkish side for a “two-state” solution and Turkey’s strategies for the creation of new fait-accompli, both in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus and on land, including the closed area of Famagusta in violation of Resolutions 550 and 789 of the UN Security Council, but also through the further militarization of the occupied territories, will never be accepted”. That is why, “we expect the European Parliament, as the cornerstone of EU’s democratic legitimacy and the guardian of European principles and values, to apply the general principle of conditionality also for the candidate countries to safeguard the common principles us and values”.

She thanked EP President for her special reference to Cyprus in her first speech as President of the European Parliament and for her determination to contribute to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

As she said, “we remain committed to the goal of resuming talks within the parameters of the United Nations, with the aim of finding a just and sustainable solution, in accordance with international law, the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and European principles and values”, adding that “this commitment of ours is also reflected in the confidence-building measures proposed by the President of the Republic, with the aim of creating an appropriate climate for the resumption of peace talks. Unfortunately, the Turkish side has rejected them from the beginning without even discussing them”.

Finally, she noted that Cypriots consider that the future of Cyprus is inextricably linked with the future of the European Union and are ready to contribute substantially in the energy autonomy and security of the European Union, through the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

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