Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

Written statement by Government Spokesman, Mr Konstantinos Letymbiotis

The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, on Tuesday, 17 October 2023, participated in the extraordinary European Council via teleconference. The extraordinary European Council was convened due to the seriousness of the situation unfolding following the terrorist attacks against Israel.

During the proceedings of the extraordinary European Council, President Christodoulides once again condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas and expressed the support of the Cypriot Government for the Israeli people.

The President of the Republic emphasised the need to avoid further civilian casualties on all sides and to de-escalate the crisis. He added that the unconditional release of all hostages is a crucial element.

President Christodoulides stated that the Republic of Cyprus, as the closest EU member state in the region and a country with excellent relations with regional states, will make every possible effort within its capabilities to de-escalate the crisis and ensure security and peace in the area.

He said that the European Union must play a much more active and substantial role, a position that the President of the Republic has repeatedly expressed in previous European Councils concerning the Middle East and the Southern Neighbourhood.

President Christodoulides also highlighted the significant humanitarian role that our country plays in this crisis, noting, indicatively, that we have responded to numerous requests from third countries, contributing to the evacuation of citizens from 26 countries so far. Additionally, he conveyed Cyprus' readiness to provide humanitarian aid to the region, including Gaza, utilising our geographical proximity and our status as an EU member state.

The close and continuous cooperation with regional states, primarily Egypt and Jordan, as well as with the United Nations, in the joint effort to prevent further escalation of the crisis, is imperative, President Christodoulides emphasised. In this context, he referred to the ongoing communication he has been having with leaders of the region, during which they exchanged views on joint actions that can be taken.

In the same context, President Christodoulides referred to the telephone conversations he had with leaders of the region and conveyed messages from the Prime Minister of Israel, the King of Jordan, and the President of Egypt to the European leaders, particularly in relation to today's lengthy phone conversation he had with the President of Egypt, Mr Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President Christodoulides stressed the need for the European Union to support Egypt as a country of critical importance to the broader region.

Finally, the President of the Republic emphasised to our European partners that the recent escalation is tangible proof of the importance of the Southern Neighbourhood for the peace and security of the EU itself, and of the entailing need for more regular and systematic engagement with the region.