The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, met yesterday afternoon at the Foreign Ministry with her Greek counterpart, Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is on an official visit to Cyprus. Following a tête-à-tête meeting between the two Foreign Ministers and extensive consultations between the two delegations, Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis and Mr Avramopoulos held a joint press conference.
The Cypriot Foreign Minister in her initial statement said the following:
“I would like to begin by pointing out two very important facts. The first is that as it has been common practice, as it is customary, the first official visit abroad of the Foreign Minister of Greece, my friend Dimitris Avramopoulos, is to Cyprus. The second one is that the first official guest of Cyprus, at the very first day of our EU Presidency, is the Foreign Minister of Greece, our friend Dimitris Avramopoulos. This, I believe, is a very important and clear message of the very close knit relations and cooperation between Cyprus and Greece, over time.
We had the opportunity to discuss a very large number of issues related to the priorities of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, the crisis in the Eurozone, the Cyprus problem, Turkey’s threats over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey’s EU accession negotiations and, in general, enlargement issues, as well as issues concerning the Southern Neighbourhood. As you know, both the enlargement issues –especially in the Balkans– and the Southern Neighbourhood issue comprise very important priorities of the Cyprus EU Presidency. I would like to say that there was congruence of opinions, but we also had the chance to discuss better coordination of positions, especially during this six-month period.
Once more, I thank the Foreign Minister and the Greek Government for the great help that Greece has offered to us with seconded experts who will help us during our EU Presidency, both here in the Foreign Ministry and in other Ministries as well.”
For his part, the Greek Foreign Minister said in his initial statement:
“First of all, I would like to thank, once more, the Foreign Minister and a good friend of mine, Erato, for the welcome and the cordial atmosphere in which our negotiations were held. Moreover, I shall say that it is a great joy to begin my term as Foreign Minister of Greece from Cyprus. This is not only symbolic and semiotic in terms of the value that it carries, but also it comes from my heart. It is therefore a great pleasure that I have met today with my friend, the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, with whom we had a very interesting discussion, in a very warm environment of common understanding and perception.
I would like to especially thank the Foreign Minister for one more reason, for our meeting today, on what is indeed a historic day for the Republic of Cyprus, but also for Europe, with the assumption today of the EU Presidency. Speaking right after my arrival at the airport, I wished every success and I am sure that after this six-month period, Cyprus, with its initiatives and its excellent organisation, will seal important results that will determine the future of our new big country, Europe.
Our discussion was extremely useful, while we had the opportunity to extensively discuss the course of the Cyprus problem, the progress of the research activities in the Cyprus EEZ and the perfect preparation that has been done for the Cyprus EU Presidency. We also talked about the efforts being made to counter the economic crisis, the latest development in the EU after the EU Summit, but also the situation in Syria and the wider Middle East.
Our discussion reconfirmed and affirmed the congruence of opinions and goals between Greece and Cyprus, as well as the excellent and close level of cooperation that exists between our Ministries. I assured my friend Erato that Greece will continue to wholeheartedly and practically stand by Cyprus.
At this point, I would like to say that we may pass through difficult times with the economic crisis, but Greece continues to be one powerful stability factor in the wider region. Its ‘diplomatic reserve’ has not been exhausted and is always ready to undertake initiatives towards this direction.
The termination of the Turkish occupation and the finding of a comprehensive and agreed solution to the Cyprus problem consists a high-ranking priority of the Greek foreign policy and the key for the complete settlement of the Greek-Turkish relations. The solution should be just, viable and effective, based on the decisions of the United Nations and the principles and values of the EU, and to be in accordance to the Acquis Communautaire. I believe it is a strategic mistake of Turkey not to perceive Cyprus’ participation in the EU and the important natural resources in the EEZ of Cyprus, as incentives for a prompt solution of the Cyprus problem. Reaching an agreement is in the interest of all. Unfortunately, though, Turkey continues to threaten with partition plans and to avoid meetings with the Cyprus Presidency, while she carries out offensive actions in Cyprus’ EEZ. These are actions which lead nowhere and which encumber the climate, delaying the solution of the Cyprus problem. The aggressive attitude against Cyprus should immediately stop, and so should threats against Cyprus.
Concluding, I would like to thank, once more, Mrs Erato Marcoullis for her hospitality and for this very interesting and cordial discussion, and to assure her that the Greek government and I personally, will always be by the side of the Cypriots, in order to reach the just and viable solution that we all pursue, for the benefit, and prosperity of our citizens, and the assurance of peace and stability in the region. We walk together in a spirit of mutual understanding and I am sure –as I said before– that in the end of this six-month period, positive results will be recorded in the name of cooperation, peace and stability in the wider region and of our common European future.”
Responding to a question on how they evaluated the results of the recent EU Summit and if they discussed plans of coordination and common positions, Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis said: “It was one of the issues that we discussed, especially the results and the Conclusions of the latest European Council. You realise, though, that these are issues for which a series of contacts should be held, particularly by the relevant Ministries. These are very important Conclusions and decisions for the entire EU, but especially for the member countries located in the South. Surely, Greece, Cyprus and our other partners that are in the Southern area of the EU can and should use these decisions to the maximum. Of course, our cooperation is a given, also in this field.”
On his part, Mr Avramopoulos noted his agreement with the Cypriot Foreign Minister and added: “The use of the results and the Conclusions of the recent Summit are for the benefit of the entire Europe, and especially of the countries of the European South. The Greek government examines and evaluates these Conclusions and I am sure that, after the assurances given by the Greek Prime Minister as well, the road opens towards the use of these positive, until now, Conclusions of the European Summit. With the Foreign Minister we analysed and discussed the content of the last Summit, where –as you know– I was there as part of the Greek delegation, under the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, and we examined in depth all the aspects of the Conclusions of this important Summit.”